African Cup of Nations - Ghana beat Mali
Asamoah Gyan’s superb free-kick helped Ghana to a 2-0 African Cup of Nations Group D victory over Mali at the Stade de Franceville in Gabon.
Neither side could break the deadlock in a cagey first half but Gyan opened the scoring in style on 63 minutes before Andre Ayew made the game safe 13 minutes later.
Ghana were without captain John Mensah after the Lyon defender was sent off having scored in the 1-0 victory over Botswana, while Mali also won their opening game by a single goal thanks to Bakaye Traore's strike against Guinea.
Neither side could take control of the match in the first half, with the game largely played out in a packed midfield.
Clear-cut chances were few and far between and it took until the 25th minute for a sniff at goal, when Mali keeper Soumbeila Diakite spilt Kwadwo Asamoah's long-range effort – but Sulley Muntari fired the rebound wide.
Udinese’s Asamoah looked most likely to break the deadlock for Ghana, twisting and turning on the edge of the box, only to slice his shot well wide.
But it was Mali who went closest to opening the scoring in the first half when Cheick Diabate saw his 25-yard free-kick crash off the post, run along the line and hit the other post, with Abdou Traore skying the rebound.
Ghana went close after the break when Diakite failed to hold Ayew’s shot but bravely smothered the rebound with two Ghana players lurking.
But the Black Stars did find the net when Gyan sent a pin-point free-kick past Diakite and into the top corner.
Mali looked to hit back quickly but the unmarked Modibo Maiga put his header over and Ayew made sure Ghana took all three points after a clever flick from Gyan released the Marseille man who, after turning his marker inside out, slotted home.