Nelspruit: A goal from Stade Rennes striker Jonathan Pitroipa in extra time decided the last 2013 Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final game between Burkina Faso and Togo on Sunday evening in Nelspruit.
The Stallions have earned a semi-final clash with the Black Stars of Ghana after Pitroipa headed powerfully in the 105th minute from a Kabore corner. He was unmarked at the near post and nodded against the underside of the crossbar to beat goalkeeper Agassa.
It was all square in the first half at the Mbombela Stadium. Both sides had their chances with Togo seeing most of the possession, but the defence of Burkina Faso was resolute to shield goalkeeper Diakite.
Togo came back from the break with early pressure that almost gave them the lead in the 47th minute. The telepathy between the trio of Adebayor, Ayite and Gakpe shook the Stallions defence when Ayite played into his captain, who then connected with Gakpe. The Standard Liege player crossed the ball to the Tottenham Hotspur striker in the box, who rose between two Burkinabe defenders and headed past the advancing goalkeeper towards an open net, but Saidou Panandetiguiri recovered quickly to clear off the goal-line.
The captain was once again called to duty when he superbly brought the ball down and flew past his markers Koulibaly and Kone. The lanky striker dashed to the right and unleashed a powerful drive at goal, but Diakite pulled off his line to narrow the angle before blocking the shot.
Moments later, it was Burkina Faso’s turn to come into the game. Substitute Prejuce Nakoulma brought some spark into the attacking department, as he was fed through down the left. The Gorniz Zabrze striker opened up the Togo defence with his twists and turns, but he failed to hit his target.
A few chances went begging for both sides, but there was no breakthrough for either side in normal time as referee Badara Diatta blew the whistle, leading to another 30 minutes of play to decide the match.
The extra time started with a great deal of commitment from both sides, but execution was poor in the final third. It was the 1998 champions who saw more of the ball during the second half of extra time and their efforts paid off as Pitroipa put them in the lead to send Didier Six’s men packing and set up a semi-final berth against four-time champions Ghana.