Mohamed Bayo of Guinea celebrates after scoring the winning goal during their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations Last 16 match against Equatorial Guinea at Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan on Sunday. (Photo by Djaffar Ladjal / BackpagePix)
Mohamed Bayo headed in a dramatic winner in the eighth minute of injury time as Guinea beat 10-man Equatorial Guinea 1-0 on Sunday to advance to the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations.
The last-16 tie at the Ebimpe Olympic Stadium in Abidjan was heading for extra time when Bayo, of French Ligue 1 side Le Havre, struck right at the death to spark frenzied scenes of celebration among the Guinea team and their large support.
It was a historic moment for the Syli National, who had never previously won a Cup of Nations knockout tie — they were runners-up in 1976, in an era when the final four played a round-robin format to decide the winner of the trophy.
They will now face either Egypt or the Democratic Republic of Congo in the last eight in Abidjan on Friday.
But Equatorial Guinea, who had midfielder Federico Bikoro sent off in the 55th minute, will wonder what might have been had captain Emilio Nsue not squandered a penalty midway through the second half.
Their players slumped to the turf at the end while Guinea celebrated with their noisy support in a crowd of 36,340, as Abidjan’s sizeable Guinean community turned out in force for the occasion.
Guinea had appeared to be handicapped by coach Kaba Diawara’s decision to leave prolific VfB Stuttgart striker Serhou Guirassy -– scorer of 17 goals in the German Bundesliga this season -– on the bench at kick-off, with ex-Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita also dropping out.
Guirassy had missed Guinea’s first two group games and was replaced again here by Bayo.
The tie only came to life in the second half, with Guinea midfielder Mory Konate heading in a free-kick in the 53rd minute only for the goal to be disallowed for offside.
Moments later came the red card, with Tunisia-based Bikoro being dismissed for a reckless follow-through that saw him plant his studs into Bayo’s abdomen.