Five standout Africa Cup of Nations goals

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MALABO, Equatorial Guinea, Jan 29, 2015 (AFP) – Five of the best goals from the group stage of the Africa Cup of Nations, which concluded on Wednesday evening:

MANDLA MASANGO (South Africa v Ghana)

It ultimately proved meaningless in a game Bafana Bafana lost 2-1 to exit the competition at the group stage, but Masango’s opening goal in Mongomo was a feat of agility and technique. The little Kaizer Chiefs midfielder fell to the floor as he tried to control a cross with his chest on the edge of the box, but when a Ghana defender headed the ball back towards him he immediately got up and lashed a vicious dipping volley over goalkeeper Razak Braimah and into the net under the bar.

BAKARY SAKO (Mali v Ivory Coast)

Wolverhampton Wanderers winger Sako gave Mali the lead in their 1-1 draw against the Ivory Coast thanks to a stunning strike in Malabo. Arriving unmarked at the back post in the seventh minute, Sako connected sweetly on the half-volley with a Sambou Yatabare cross from the right flank, giving Sylvain Gbohouo in goal no chance.
IBRAHIMA TRAORE (Guinea v Cameroon)

The Borussia Moenchengladbach winger initially failed to control the ball on the left edge of the Cameroon box in Malabo, but when he got it back from team-mate Issiaga Sylla he needed no second invitation to bring his side level. Despite being surrounded by four defenders, the winger controlled and turned before lashing a powerful low strike into the far corner of the net to secure a 1-1 draw for his team.

ASAMOAH GYAN (Ghana v Algeria)

With the clock ticking into the second minute of added time and the score still goalless in a must-win game for Ghana, Gyan latched onto a hopeful long ball downfield and held off Carl Medjani before beating the goalkeeper with a clean strike into the far corner to secure a vital 1-0 victory. As fine a hit as it was, the goal was more significant because of the context — Ghana captain Gyan missed his side’s opening game after contracting a mild bout of malaria only to come back and remain on the pitch until the end against the Algerians despite appearing visibly shattered at the finish.

MAX-ALAIN GRADEL (Ivory Coast v Cameroon)

Another goal of vital importance, as Gradel’s first-half strike in Malabo secured a 1-0 win for the Elephants in their final group game to take them through to the quarter-finals. But it was also a goal of great quality, the Saint-Etienne winger receiving the ball from Siaka Tiene on the left before cutting in and beating the ‘keeper with a thumping shot from the edge of the area.

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