The Africa Cup of Nations finals saw a series of unexpected results on Sunday, with the Cape Verde Islands defeating four-time champions Ghana 2-1 in Group B thanks to a thrilling stoppage-time goal by Garry Rodrigues.
It was the third game of the day in Abidjan, coming after Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea drew in Group A, and Egypt and Mozambique drew in the opening Group B encounter at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium, needing a last-minute penalty.
In the 17th minute, Jamiro Monteiro scored from close range after Ghanaian goalkeeper Richard Ofori parried a shot by Rodrigues, who was born in the Netherlands to give Cape Verde the lead.
Ten minutes before halftime, Majeed Ashimeru fired a hard shot from outside the area to give Ghana the impression that they had tied the score.
However, following a VAR check, it was disallowed due to interference from Ransford Königsdorffer, who was in the goalkeeper’s line of sight despite being offside.
After unintentionally hitting the upright, Königsdorffer was heading back when Cape Verde goalkeeper Vozinha threw out a clearance that struck him squarely in the face and sent him cannoning back towards goal.
Eleven minutes into the second half, Alexander Djiku headed home from Jordan Ayew’s corner to give Ghana a point. The islands’ defence was unable to clear an innocent delivery, so Djiku had to lean down to get his head to the ball.
After Antoine Semenyo set him up at the back post, Joseph Paintsil just missed the opportunity, and the Black Stars may have won.
But after that, Cape Verde’s fortunes kept coming to them.
Twenty minutes from time, Djiku made a goal-line clearing to prevent Bebe, and in the final ten minutes, Rodrigues was twice denied.
The breakthrough occurred in stoppage time when Gilson Benchimol, a substitute who was making his debut, deftly touched the ball to get it past Ofori and into Rodrigues’s path after Mohammed Salisu failed to clear.
With 28 minutes remaining, veteran Ghanaian Dede Ayew entered the game to play in his eighth Cup of Nations competition, matching the record previously held by Egyptian Ahmed Hassan and Cameroonian Rigobert Song.
In the first Group B match, Mohamed Salah saved Egypt’s blushes by converting a stoppage-time penalty against Mozambique, 2-2. Egypt is participating in its first finals since 2010.
The following matches will take place at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium on Thursday when Ghana plays Egypt and Friday when Cape Verde plays Mozambique.