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A significant setback to Equatorial Guinea has left Ivory Coast’s prospects of making the Afcon, as Nigeria advances to the round of 16

After a shocking 4-0 loss to Equatorial Guinea, the hosts of the Africa Cup of Nations, Ivory Coast, are about to face an embarrassing elimination from the competition.

After placing third in Group A, the Elephants had little hope of qualifying until two more goals from hat-trick hero Emilio Nsue, goals from Pablo Ganet, and goals from substitute Jannick Buyla.

With three points, they have little chance of being among the four third-place teams to advance, but painfully, they might not find out until Wednesday night, when the group stage is over.

After the Super Eagles’ 1-0 victory over Guinea-Bissau in Group A’s play-offs, Equatorial Guinea was officially declared the unexpected group winners, ahead of Nigeria in second place.

Ivory Coast was forced to pay after having two goals disallowed for offside and snatching at other good opportunities.

When Nicolas Pepe charged into the area following a long ball over the top that fell at his feet and was obviously fouled by Saul Coco, they could have been awarded a penalty.

But even though Pepe chose to stay upright, he was unable to go past Equatorial Guinea goalkeeper Jesus Owono, and the chance was lost.

And three minutes before halftime, Akapo surged past four ineffective tackles into the area and squared the ball for Nsue, shocking Ivory Coast.

Now 34 and captaining his nation, the former Birmingham and Middlesbrough full-back swept the ball home on his first attempt.

Ibrahim Sangare’s goal from Pepe’s pass gave the home team the impression that they had responded right away, but VAR showed that the Nottingham Forest midfielder was offside.

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Moments into the second half, Sangare had a chance to tie the score, but he wasted it by shooting wastefully wide of the far post, and Owono miraculously stopped Christian Kouame from close range.

The goal was chalked off in the 67th minute when Jean-Philippe Krasso collected Seko Fofana’s pass in stride and curled it past Owono. However, VAR intervened once more in the absence of an offside flag.

Rather, six minutes later, a curling free-kick into the top corner by Ganet hushed the Alassane Ouattara Stadium. When Jose Machin launched a counterattack in the 75th minute and set up Nsue for an easy finish, the hosts’ fate was all but certain.

And two minutes from the end, Buyla scored the fourth goal, completing what is maybe the biggest upset in Afcon history.

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