AFCON 2021, Equatorial Guinea 0-1 Ivory Coast: Gradel stunner gets Elephants off to a winning start

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In
just
the
second
AFCON
meeting
between
the
two
nations,
experienced
winger
Gradel
sent
a
thunderous
first-time
effort
into
the
top-right
corner
to
put
the
Elephants
ahead
in
their
opening
encounter
in
Douala
on
Wednesday
(January
12).

Yet
despite
facing
a
star-studded
Ivory
Coast
side,
Equatorial
Guinea
can
consider
themselves
unfortunate
not
to
have
taken
something
against
the
two-time
AFCON
champions.

Indeed,
Gradel’s
effort
was
the
only
attempt
on
target
from
Ivory
Coast
until
substitute
Nicolas
Pepe
forced
a
save
from
Manuel
Sapunga
in
the
81st
minute.

Emilio
Nsue
squandered
Equatorial
Guinea’s
best
opportunity
just
after
the
hour-mark,
drilling
straight
at
Ivory
Coast
goalkeeper
Badra
Ali
Sangare
when
through
one-on-one.

But
the
Elephants
were
not
made
to
pay
for
their
relatively
blunt
attacking,
given
the
quality
at
their
disposal,
as
they
took
the
lead
in
Group
E
and
ensured
their
run
of
avoiding
defeat
in
AFCON
openers
continued,
having
last
gone
down
in
such
a
game
in
1996.

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