MALABO: Violent scenes overshadowed the African Nations Cup semi-final as Ghana reached Sunday’s final with a 3-0 win over hosts Equatorial Guinea on Thursday in a match halted for 34 minutes late in the second half.
The crowd spilling onto the field meant the match was halted eight minutes from time as spectators sought sanctuary behind the goal after home fans attacked Ghana supporters and rained objects down on their bench.
Security forces fired tear gas and used a helicopter to clear the crowd, almost emptying the stands before the game was finally concluded with the referee playing two more minutes before calling time.
A controversially awarded penalty converted by Jordan Ayew in the 42nd minute, which initially sparked the violence, was followed by goals from Mubarak Wakaso and Andre Ayew to ensure Ghana reached a record ninth final where they will face the Ivory Coast.
The violence followed on from the tempestuous scenes that marred Equatorial Guinea’s disputed quarter-final win over Tunisia on Saturday but there was to be no upset again.
Ghana scored their opening goal after Equatorial Guinea goalkeeper Felipe Ovono took out the feet of striker Kwesi Appiah as he ran onto a clever through pass.
It looked yet another marginal decision in a tournament sullied by dubious penalties, fanning the anger of the home fans.
But there was no disputing the second goal shortly after, as Christian Atsu led a breakaway before unselfishly feeding Wakaso to fire home in stoppage time at the end of the first half.
Ghana, playing without injured captain Asamoah Gyan, saw Andre Ayew miss a header with an open goal yawning at him 10 minutes into the second half.
But he made amends in the 75th minute with a tap-in from close range after Appiah had gone round the goalkeeper to feed in the perfect pass.
Gabon referee Eric Otogo handed out seven yellow cards in the ill-tempered game but the anger spilled over in the 82nd minute.
The invasion and subsequent attempts to clear out the home and away fans caused a 34-minute stoppage before a brief restart and then the final whistle.
Ghana, who have won the Nations Cup four times, have now passed Egypt`s record number of cup final appearances.