ABIDJAN :Veteran striker Emilio Nsue grabbed a hat-trick as Equatorial Guinea beat Guinea Bissau 4-2 on Thursday to put themselves in a strong position to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations last-16 in the Ivory Coast.
Nsue opened the scoring in the 21st minute and added two more in the second half with Josete Miranda also on target in the Group A encounter.
Guinea Bissau’s goals – their first in eight matches at the finals since 2017 – came from an own goal from Esteban Orozco to level the score at 1-1 and a stoppage-time consolation effort from Ze Turbo.
The win moved Equatorial Guinea to four points after they held Nigeria to a draw in their opening game on Sunday while Guinea Bissau have now lost twice.
Equatorial Guinea went ahead in the 21st minute as Guinea Bissau captain Sori Mane failed to intercept a pass from Pablo Ganet and Nsue needed no second invitation to score.
Guinea Bissau equalised 16 minutes later as Mauro Rodrigues’ cross was turned into his own net by defender Orozco.
They were then awarded a penalty two minutes later after a challenge by Saul Coco on Franculino. Yet after a lengthy VAR check it was reversed as Franculino was deemed the offender rather than the Equatorial Guinea centre back.
A long ball down the middle at the resumption of the second half was missed by the Guinea Bissau centre backs and allowed Miranda an easy finish to restore the lead.
They extended their advantage in the 51st minute as Basilo Ndong’s cross was missed by Guinea Bissau goalkeeper Ouparine Djoco and Nsue slid the ball in at the back post.
His hat-trick was completed 10 minutes later although it took a long VAR check for offside before the goal was awarded
It was a first hat-trick at the finals since 2008.
Ze Turbo pulled one back for Guinea Bissau with a touch off the outside of his left foot late in stoppage time but the game had long been settled.
Host Ivory Coast and Nigeria were meeting later on Thursday in the second Group A game at the Alhassan Ouattara Stadium.
(Editing by Toby Davis)