Ghana defeated Africa Cup of Nations host Equatorial Guinea 3-0 today in a match that few will remember for the football.
The match was suspended with less than ten minutes to play after Ghanaian fans fled to the pitch to escape being hit with bottles and other objects in the stands.
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Bottles and trash were then thrown on the pitch, forcing players from both teams to seek refuge in the center of the field.
Some Equatorial Guinea players tried to get the fans to stop, but to no avail. The Ghanaian players were then led off the pitch under the cover of shields from riot police.
According to Steve Crossman of the BBC World Service in Malabo, tear gas was used to try and subdue the situation.
The Ghana fans are marching out of the stadium – it is a sight to behold. There is a big plume of tear gas – the tear gas is spreading to the middle and up towards the back corner. The supporters are diving for cover. It’s the clear the authorities have moved in with force. One fan has jumped over the wall and landed on an ambulance – that’s a 20 foot drop.”
A helicopter flew over the stadium as fans from both nations were escorted out. After a delay of about 30 minutes, play was surprisingly restarted, despite Ghana being up three goals with under ten minutes to play.
Jordan Ayew had put the Black Stars ahead in the first half when he converted from the penalty spot, and Ghana doubled their lead just before the break when Mubarak Wakaso slotted a left-footed shot home in the 45th minute. Andre Ayew gave Ghana a three goal lead in the 74th, just about ten minutes before the match was suspended. They will face Ivory Coast in the finals.
Players from both teams remained calm throughout the situation, and no violence between players broke out after the restart.
It is terrible to see a match overshadowed by events like this, as the Africa Cup of Nations has run very smoothly so far despite all of their issues leading up to the tournament. Equatorial Guinea could face sanctions from the CAF for their supporters’ actions, something we will likely here more about in the coming days.