African Nations Cup: Agogo guides Ghana into last four

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The Nottingham Forest striker Junior Agogo sent 10-man Ghana into the African Nations Cup semi-finals when his late goal gave the hosts a 2-1 victory over Nigeria yesterday.

An exhausted Agogo, who struggled through the second half with tiredness, was on hand to tap in virtually on the goalline after Sulley Muntari had squeezed a square pass through the Nigeria defence with eight minutes remaining. Yakubu had given Nigeria the lead in the quarter-final in Accra with a 35th-minute penalty only for the Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien to equalise with a fine header on the stroke of half-time.

Tournament hosts Ghana will meet either Tunisia or Cameroon, who play today, in Thursday's semi-final in Accra.

In yesterday's other quarter-final, Chelsea strikers Salomon Kalou, with two, and Didier Drogba were both on the scoresheet as favourites Ivory Coast hammered Guinea 5-0 to make it through to the semi-finals.

Abdelkader Keita put the Elephants ahead in the first half, but the result was not wrapped up until midway through the second when the Chelsea duo struck before Baki Kone also scored four minutes from time.

Ivory Coast will meet the winners of today's first quarter-final between Angola and Egypt in the lastfour.

Agogo's winner came 20 minutes after Ghana had been reduced to 10 men with the sending off of their captain John Mensah. The central defender was shown a red card for a professional foul on Peter Odemwingie on the edge of Ghana's penalty area. Mensah will miss the semi-final.

Nigeria took the lead 10 minutes from half-time when Eric Addo brought down Yakubu with a rugby-style tackle. The Everton striker converted from the spot for only the third goal in their four matches by a disappointing Nigeria.

Essien put Ghana level when he powered home a header from Quincy Owusu-Abeyie's free-kick.

"It's a fantastic team effort, they are really 11 heroes," said Claude Le Roy, the Ghana coach. "We took a risk not to change our formation and bring on a defender after Mensah had been sent off but we wanted to keep attacking."

The Nigeria coach, Berti Vogts said Ghana had shown more experience at crucial times in the match. "We made one or two mistakes and that is not allowed in international football. I'm very disappointed," he said.

It was the first time in five Nations Cup tournaments that Nigeria have failed to reach the last four.

Yesterday's results

Ghana (1) 2 Nigeria (1) 1

Ivory Coast (1) 5 Guinea (0) 0

Today's fixtures

* Quarter-finals: Egypt v Angola, 17.00 Eurosport 16.15, BBCi 20.00

Tunisia v Cameroon, 20.30 Eurosport 19.45, BBC3 20.00