SUEZ, Egypt (Reuters) - Jordan Ayew and Thomas Partey delivered Ghana into the knockout stages of the Africa Cup of Nations with second half goals as they beat Guinea Bissau in their last group game at the Suez Stadium on Tuesday.
The 2-0 victory catapulted Ghana to top place in Group F, by the narrowest of margins ahead of Cameroon on the number of goal scored, avoiding a weekend clash with arch rivals Nigeria.
Ayew, who also struck the woodwork twice, showed both strength and guile as he broke down the left flank, shrugged off two defenders and then curled the ball into the far corner some 30 seconds into the second half.
Partey added the second in the 72nd minute as he slid home a cross from left back Baba Rahman.
Guinea Bissau were eliminated after finishing bottom but did not go out without fight, striking the woodwork three times as Ghana lived precariously throughout the contest.
A powerful shot from Piqueti in the 17th minute was the first to come close, touched onto the crossbar by Ghana goalkeeper Richard Ofori.
Ayew then had an effort strike the upright after he ran onto a ball over the top of the Guinea Bissau defence in the 36th minute before giving the Black Stars the lead as the spectators were barely settling back into their seats after the half-time break.
Guinea Bissau responded with Joseph Mendes striking the woodwork with a cracking 52nd minute shot and then captain Mamadu Cande curling a corner on the crossbar some 12 minutes later.
But the small former Portuguese colony departed the Cup of Nations without finding the net in their three games.
Ghana, after disappointing draws in their opening two group games against Benin and Cameroon, played with increased intent as the game went on and might have won by a bigger margin.
Partey’s goal came at the end of a powerful run down the pitch by the Atletico Madrid midfielder, showing his strength as he held off two defenders to net the second.
Ghana have reached the last four of the previous six editions of the Cup of Nations, stretching back over a decade, but last won the tournament in 1982.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Alison Williams)