- Associated Press - Friday, January 23, 2015

MONGOMO, Equatorial Guinea (AP) - Asamoah Gyan returned after a bout of malaria at the African Cup of Nations to score an injury-time goal and give Ghana a 1-0 win over tournament favorite Algeria on Friday.

Senegal then went top of Group C after fighting back for a 1-1 draw with South Africa.

The group is wide open after Gyan’s goal right at the end at Mongomo Stadium, with Ghana now level with Algeria on three points after two games, one behind Senegal.

South Africa has the hardest task to reach the quarterfinals with just a point so far, but even Bafana Bafana is not out of it ahead of the last games.

Group C lived up to its billing as one of the toughest and most intriguing when Gyan ran onto a hopeful long ball and finished with a low bouncing shot to boost his team’s chances of advancing, while setting Algeria up for a nervous last group game.

“Coming to the last round of games, a big team is not going to the second round,” Senegal coach Alain Giresse said.

Giresse’s team is in the best position, needing just a draw against Algeria to reach the quarterfinals after a thumping header from defender Serigne Mbodji gave it a point against South Africa and kept it the group’s only unbeaten team.

Gyan is Ghana’s top player but missed the team’s first game because of a mild bout of malaria, and had to spend a night in the hospital in Mongomo. The team said he still hasn’t fully recovered, but he celebrated his late winner by hurdling over the advertising boards and sprinting toward the fans to celebrate.

“He’s a great player, a fantastic player, great attitude,” Ghana coach Avram Grant said. “He’s fantastic in important games. Even when he’s sick he played 90 minutes and he scored.”

Algeria ultimately paid the price for not pushing for a victory against Ghana on Friday, seeming content with a draw.

“The boys didn’t play to instructions,” Algeria coach Christian Gourcuff said, also claiming his team wasn’t help by what he called a poor field in Mongomo and the hot and humid conditions in the far-eastern city.

South Africa created good chances against Senegal - like it did in its 3-1 loss to Algeria - but converted just one when Oupa Manyisa struck early in the second half. Bafana Bafana again couldn’t hold on to its lead and needs help to make the quarters. It must beat Ghana and hope Senegal beats Algeria to sneak through from last in the group.

“Anything can happen,” South Africa coach Ephraim Mashaba said. “Football has its own miracles.”


Gerald Imray is on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP

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