Equatorial Guinea revived their hopes of reaching the Africa Cup of Nations finals for the first time since hosting the continental showpiece in 2015, when they completed the double over Libya, defeating them 1-0 in Bata on Saturday evening.
Nzalang Nacional raised their Group J tally to six points in second place, three points behind leaders Tunisia who face Tanzania in Dar Es Salaam on Tuesday. Libya and Tanzania follow in that order with three points each.
Ivan Edu Salvador scored what proved to be the game’s lone goal, sending a scorcher that Libya goalkeeper Fathi Sabir could do nothing about after 27 minutes.
After losing their first two games, Equatorial Guinea – who co-hosted 2012 AFCON with Gabon before hosting the 2015 edition – seemed outside the race to Cameroon 2021. But two successive victories on Libya, 3-2 in Cairo and 1-0 in Bata meant dreams are alive again for the Equatoguineans.
Salvador was the first to ask Libyan goalkeeper questions as early as the second minute when his shot from a freekick found the safe hands of Sabir.
The Libyan shot stopper was there once again to stop Jose Miranda’s header after seven minutes, with the hosts showing their intentions early.
Jose Machin Dicombo tried his luck after 25 minutes, but his shot went wide. And two minutes later Salvador received the ball outside the area and sent a brilliant shot that Sabir could do nothing about to put the hosts ahead.
Libya’s first glance at goal came three minutes from halftime through Hamdou Elhouni whose shot missed the target as the opening half ended with Equatorial Guinea leading 1-0.
Salvador was always the man behind the hosts attacks, and his shot from long range was stopped by Sabir seven minutes after the break. And a minute later Sabir was there again to stop Salomon Obama’s effort.
Libya threw everything in attack, and Elhouni tried his luck after 55 minutes, but his shot was saved by Jesus Owono.
Moftah Taktak tried to score from a tight angle after 70 minutes but Owono was alert.
The visitors thought they grabbed a late equalizer when Mouatassim Sabbou headed home four minutes from time, only to be called off for offside.