African Cup of Nations – Mbia sends Lions through
Eurosport – Tue, 05 Feb 07:18:00 2008
Stephane Mbia’s extra time volley earned Cameroon a 3-2 win over Tunisia after a thrilling African Cup of Nations quarter-final in Tamale.
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Mbia put Cameroon ahead and Geremi‘s free-kick gave the Indomitable Lions a two-goal lead, but Chaouki Ben Saada’s free-kick halved their advantage and Yacine Chikhaoui’s late strike took the game into extra time.
Mbia’s second goal gave Cameroon the lead at the beginning of the first extra period, and they survived some nervous moments to set up a semi-final tie with hosts Ghana.
The sides exchanged chances in an open early spell, and after Jean Makoun had directed a header wide from Geremi’s right-wing cross, Chikhaoui flashed a left-footed shot across goal at the other end.
Tunisia goal-keeper Hamdi Kasraoui had shown signs of edginess when confronted with high balls into the box and on 17 minutes his error allowed Cameroon to go ahead.
After flapping at a corner, Kasraoui got nowhere near Alexandre Song’s cross from the left, allowing Mbia to nip in behind him and head his side in front.
Tunisia were caught cold by the goal, and within 10 minutes they were 2-0 down when Geremi curled a delightful free-kick over the wall and into the bottom-left corner from almost 30 yards.
A Tunisia goal looked an unlikely possibility as they struggled to adopt any kind of attacking rhythm, but Alexandre Song’s challenge on Radhouane Felhi gave them a free-kick on the edge of the area which Ben Saada curled inside Carlos Kameni’s left-hand post to cut Cameroon’s lead in half.
The goal gave Tunisia heart, and minutes before half-time they twice went close to taking the lead.
Substitute Sabeur Ben Frej – on for the injured Karim Hagui – teed up Francileudo dos Santos, and when his powerful shot smashed against the crossbar Ben Saada saw a crisply struck follow-up brilliantly stopped on the line by Kameni.
Tunisia started the second period brightly, and Chikhaoui poked a shot wide under pressure from Timothee Atouba and Andre Bikey after charging into the box.
The Eagles of Carthage saw a lot of the ball but struggled to make any inroads into Cameroon’s defensive territory, and with 20 minutes remaining Felhi had to produce a last-gasp sliding tackle to deny Samuel Eto’o as he bore down on goal.
Cameroon’s lead was looking fairly comfortable, but with less than 10 minutes remaining Mohamadou Idrissou was caught in possession by Ben Frej, who cut the ball back for Chikhaoui to expertly sweep the ball home from 15 yards and send the game to extra time.
Cameroon went ahead after three minutes of the extra period when Geremi’s long throw from the right wasn’t cleared and Mbia fired a sharp volley into the bottom-right corner which proved to be decisive.