Everton winger Christian Atsu scored twice as Ghana booked their place in the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations by beating Guinea 3-0.

Atsu, who has scarcely played during his loan spell at Goodison Park from Chelsea, struck his goals either side of one from Cambridge United striker Kwesi Appiah.

The second in particular was a magnificent strike, as Atsu cut in from the right wing and curled a beautiful dipping shot over the dive of Guinea keeper Naby Yattara to make it 3-0.

Atsu, despite his lack of playing time in England, is an established name in Ghana, and has been a regular for Avram Grant’s side in Equatorial Guinea. But for 24-year-old striker Appiah, on loan from Crystal Palace, this was his first international start, and it brought his first international goal.

The League Two forward also helped provide another on his full debut, as the Black Stars saw off Guinea with incredible ease. Ghana were helped greatly by some woeful Guinean defending, in particular for Appiah’s goal shortly before half -time.

Centre back Baissama Sankoh made such a hash of his clearance that it trickled straight into the striker’s path on the edge of the box, and Appiah, with no defenders in sight, finished coolly through Yattara’s legs.

It was the crowning glory on an excellent display from the Thamesmead-born forward, who also had a hand in the first goal, scored by Atsu, in just the fourth minute.

Appiah drove at the Guinea defence before feeding Andre Ayew in the box. The Marseille forward took the ball away from goal before rolling it across the box, for Asamoah Gyan. But despite the striker arriving ahead of the ball, it still arrived for Atsu to convert emphatically at the far post.

From that point on Ghana were in control without ever having to get into top gear. Guinea – who only reached the quarter-final through the random procedure of drawing lots – were disappointing from start to finish. They had promised to lift their Ebola-ravaged nation with a win after their mid-week reprieve, but never looked capable of scoring.

Kevin Constant, excellent throughout the group stages, was extremely disappointing before being replaced shortly before the hour, while Idrissa Sylla, inexplicably preferred to Mohamed Yattara up front, was appalling until half-time, when he was hooked.

Even the usually lively Ibrahima Traore was strangely subdued, as the National Elephant failed to muster a single shot on target.

To add insult to injury they had Naby Yattara sent off in stoppage time for bringing down Gyan with a flying kick when the former Sunderland man was through on goal.

Yattara might have been shown a red card an hour earlier for a needless shove on Atsu, so he could have few complaints about his late dismissal, which saw an outfield player between the posts for the final few seconds.


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