Nsue scores first AFCON hat-trick since 2008 in Equatorial Guinea win

Abidjan: Emilio Nsue scored the first Africa Cup of Nations hat-trick since 2008 as Equatorial Guinea beat Guinea-Bissau 4-2 on Thursday to close in on a place in the last 16.

Nsue opened the scoring midway through the first half before a sparse crowd at the Ebimpe Olympic Stadium and added two more goals in the second half in a remarkable performance.

The result leaves Equatorial Guinea, who held Nigeria 1-1 in their opening game, with four points in Group A, which also contains hosts Ivory Coast.

With the four best third-placed teams advancing to the last 16, the Nzalang Nacional (National Thunder) are ideally placed to progress as they look to emulate their run to the quarter-finals two years ago.

Captain Nsue, 34, is the first player to score three times in one game at the Cup of Nations since Soufiane Alloudi did so for Morocco in a 5-1 win over Namibia in 2008 in Ghana.

"I feel very happy. I knew this could be one of my last Africa Cups. This is my third, so I came here mentally very strong, I trusted in myself, and I am playing very well," Nsue said.

"I know I have the quality to do a good job. I just want to continue and score more goals, and I hope to be top scorer ahead of all the superstars who are here."

Born in Mallorca, Nsue started at Real Mallorca and played more than 100 times for them in La Liga.

He was part of the Spain team to win the Under-21 Euro in 2011 alongside the likes of David de Gea, Javi Martinez, Thiago Alcantara and Juan Mata.

But he later opted to represent the country of his father and captained the Equatorial Guinea team that reached the AFCON semi-finals as hosts in 2015.

Having later played in the English Championship with Middlesbrough and Birmingham City, Nsue, who has often performed as a full-back, now turns out for Alicante-based Intercity in Spain's third tier.

"This year I play as a striker. Years ago I played at right-back, even as a central defender and winger, I played all the positions," he said.

"But with the national team all my life I have played as a striker."

He added: "One of the things I am very proud of is that I think this is the strongest group in all the Africa Cup, and I think we will go through in the top two, so I am very happy for that."

Nsue opened the scoring in the 21st minute but Guinea-Bissau drew level in the 37th minute when Esteban Orozco scored an own goal under pressure from Franculino Dju.

Guinea-Bissau, chasing a first ever AFCON win in their 11th match at the tournament, were awarded a penalty moments later as Dju went down under a Saul Coco challenge.

But with Mama Balde ready to take the kick, the Rwandan referee came across to review the images and eventually overturned his decision.

Josete Miranda restored Equatorial Guinea's lead two minutes after the restart, and Nsue then took centre stage.

He converted a cross from the left flank on 51 minutes and then rounded the goalkeeper to complete his hat-trick just after the hour mark.

The goal was eventually given after initially being ruled out for offside, with Ze Turbo pulling another one back for Guinea-Bissau late on.

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