Egypt thrash Algeria, Ghana beat Nigeria to advance to final
Defending champions Egypt and Ghana advanced Thursday to Sunday's Africa Cup of Nations final in Luanda in very contrasting styles, dpa reported.
While the Pharaoh's were outstanding in their 4-0 thrashing of Algeria in Benguela, in a game in which the Desert Foxes had three players sent off, Ghana were lucky not to concede an equalizer against Nigeria during their 1-0 victory in Luanda.
The only goal of the match through Asamoah Gyan came in the 21st minute against the run of play, when Kwadwo Asamoah's corner found the head of Gyan, and the Stade Rennes striker made no mistake, beating Vincent Enyeama.
The two players had already combined for the only goal of the match against Angola, when Asamoah's cross found Gyan in space to send the Black Stars through to the semi-final.
Nigerian coach Shaibu Amodu, who seems destined to lose his job ahead of the World Cup finals later this year in South Africa, said that he felt his side deserved an equalizer.
"We didn't lose to a better side but to a youthful and enterprising team. We were better, and we paid for not making the most of our chances," he said.
"We have beaten much tougher opponents to reach the semi-final. In football, scoring goals is power. When you play well and you don't score, you are bound to lose."
Amodu said that the goal had changed the complexion of the game.
"The goal changed the chemistry of our game. My players recovered, but the equalizer never came," he said.
In Benguela, the defending champions looked impressive in an ill- tempered match in which they scored four times against the side that beat them in a World Cup qualifying play-off in November.
The goals for the Pharaohs were scored by Abdrabou Hosni, who scored a first-half penalty in the 39th minute, which led to Rafik Halliche being sent off, while Mohamed Zidan scored his side's second in the 65th minute.
Mohamed Abdelshafi added a third in the 81st minute when he found the back of the net from an acute angle. In injury time, Mohamed Nagy scored his side's fourth to take his personal tally for the tournament to four.
The Algerians ended the game with eight players after Nadir Belhadj was sent off in the second half for a two-legged tackle on Ahmed al-Muhammad, and goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi followed him for an early shower three minutes from the end for trying to kick out at Nagy.
Algerian coach Rabah Saadane blamed the referee for his sides' heavy defeat.
"The referee decided the outcome of this match, there was a conspiracy against, which became clear when he gave a red card against our best defender," he said.
"When we had to play without three players it was impossible, especially against a team like Egypt who know how to play the ball around."
The victory sees Egypt extend their unbeaten run at the Africa Cup of Nations to 18 matches. They could become the first country to win three titles in a row if they manage to beat Ghana's Black Stars on Sunday in Luanda.
Algeria will contest the third place play-off against Nigeria on Saturday in Benguela.