Ayew, Gyan put Ghana on brink
© AFP

Ghana edged closer to claiming a place in the quarter-finals of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations with a2 2-0 victory over Mali in Franceville.

Goals from Asamoah Gyan and Andre Ayew gave the Black Stars a second win in as many Group D games, with a match against fellow qualifying hopefuls Guinea still to come in the final round.

However, the outcome could have been different had Malian striker Cheick Diabate not seen his free-kick strike both posts when the game was goalless.

Mali started brightly, with Sochaux forward Modibo Maiga showing why he has attracted interest from European sides with some enterprising wing play. In the 21st minute Ghanaian defender John Boye was lucky to escape punishment for making contact with Ousmane Berthe while the Malian defender was on the ground.

However, Ghana gradually began to assert themselves and their first chance of the game came soon after in the 25th minute, when Kwadwo Asamoah's left-footed shot from long range brought a fumbled save out of Soumaila Diakite. Sulley Muntari was unable to turn in the resulting rebound.

Asamoah produced another powerful left-footed shot ten minutes later, but his effort went wide. However, Ghana had a lucky break in the 38th minute when Diabate saw his 20-yard set-piece strike both posts. The rebound fell to Abdou Traore, but he fired over.

The last chance of the first half came when Ayew rose highest to meet Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu's centre, however, his header went wide. Diakite saved low from Ayew in the 55th minute and reacted sharply to deny the Marseille striker another chance on the follow-up.

Ghana finally opened the scoring, though, after Bakaye Traore fouled Ayew, with Gyan curling his 63rd-minute free-kick expertly into the top corner of the goal.

And Gyan had a hand in Ghana's second goal just 13 minutes later. The Sunderland striker, on loan with United Arab Emirates club Al Ain, found Ayew with a clever back-heel and watched as his team-mate cut inside and beat Diakite at his near post with a low left-footed shot from 12 yards.