MONGOMO, Equatorial Guinea (AP) — Asamoah Gyan returned from a bout of malaria to score a stoppage-time winner and keep Ghana’s African Cup hopes alive with a 1-0 win over tournament favorite Algeria on Friday.
Desperately needing a win to revive its campaign, Ghana looked to be on the brink of elimination before Gyan ran onto a desperate long ball right at the end and scored past Rais Mbolhi in the Algerian goal.
Four-time champion Ghana had struggled to get going in Equatorial Guinea under new coach Avram Grant. Gyan also was forced to miss the first game because of a mild case of malaria, but he returned to revive Ghana’s campaign with the last-gasp match-winner, sprinting past the goal and to the fans after scoring with a low bouncing shot. He was mobbed by his teammates.
“This is a game with a lot of emotions, I don’t need to tell you that,” Grant said. “But this is why I love this game.”
Ghana moved level with Algeria and Senegal at the top of Group C with a win each. Senegal plays against South Africa later on Friday.
Algeria, Africa’s No. 1 team, had appeared happy to play for a draw after beating South Africa in its opener, but the loss means its own qualification for the quarterfinals is not guaranteed.
“It’s football. Once you lose you have to forget about it and move ahead,” Algeria defender Madjid Bougherra said.
Ghana didn’t have that luxury after a surprise 2-1 defeat to Senegal to open the tournament — also after a stoppage-time goal from the Senegalese.
Nabil Bentaleb had the two best openings on Friday for a cautious Algeria, but sent shots wide of the goal midway through the first half and again early in the second. He was set up both times by Sofiane Feghouli.
Ghana started slowly, but became more desperate in the second 45 and forced the pace. Gyan glance a header wide of the left post in the 53rd minute as the Ghanaians began to find some space. Andre Ayew then combined with his brother Jordan, who flicked a shot off the back of his foot just over.
Andre Ayew headed a chance over the crossbar and it appeared that Ghana would be left in real danger of going out in the group stage, having made at least the semifinals at the last four African Cups.
Substitute Wakaso Mubarak hit a long pass downfield right at the end and Gyan muscled past his defender, and then finished low and past Mbolhi.
“Even today we didn’t have an Asamoah who is 100 percent,” Ghana midfielder Andre Ayew said. “But he has the experience to score this goal when we are under pressure.