x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

'National Lightning' strikes African Cup of Nations favourites Senegal

Equatorial Guinea, placed 108 places below in ratings, emerge shock 2-1 winners with a late strike.

David Alvarez Aguirre celebrates his moment of glory against Senegal.
David Alvarez Aguirre celebrates his moment of glory against Senegal.

Equatorial Guinea produced one of their most memorable victories last night by scoring late in stoppage time for a 2-1 win against Senegal that clinched a spot in the quarter-finals of the African Cup of Nations.

David Alvarez' long-range strike in the 94th minute sealed a surprising place in the knockout round for the unfancied co-host and eliminated a Senegal side, rated among the pre-tournament favorites.

The late winner sparked jubilation at the 37,500-capacity Estadio de Bata, where fans invaded the pitch to join in the celebrations until riot police restored order.

Earlier, Zambia rallied twice in a 2-2 draw with Libya and need just a draw to progress also from Group A.

The doubleheader was delayed for more than an hour following a tropical deluge that waterlogged the pitch.

Earlier during an eventful day at the African Cup, the Morocco goalkeeper Issam Badda was diagnosed with a benign form of malaria and received a blood transfusion at a hospital in co-host Gabon.

Morocco striker Marouane Chamakh was also recovering after picking up a stomach illness, though the Arsenal forward's illness was not related to malaria, a team media officer said in an email.

The storm that preceded the Group A matches later in the evening left pools of standing water that hampered attacking play, but was a good omen for Equatorial Guinea - a team nicknamed Nzalang Nacional, or "National Lightning."

By the end of the evening it was Senegal's hopes that were washed out as the traditional African powerhouse was eliminated with a game to spare.

The game was the biggest mismatch on paper in this year's tournament, as Senegal is ranked 108 spots higher than the co-host.

Earlier, Zambia edged closer to clinching a berth in the knockout round after rallying twice to draw 2-2 with Libya.

Ahmed Osman scored at the beginning of each half for Libya, side-footing into the net in the fifth minute and adding another from close range in the 47th.

Emmanuel Mayuka volleyed an equaliser in the 29th and Christopher Katongo headed Zambia level for the second time in the 54th.