Soccer-Guinea run ends as Ghana power into semi-finals

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By Ed Dove

MALABO, Equatorial Guinea, Feb 1 (Reuters) - A wonder goal from Christian Atsu helped Avram Grant's Ghana into their fifth straight African Nations Cup semi-final with a 3-0 victory over disappointing Guinea on Sunday.

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Ghana will meet hosts Equatorial Guinea in the last four.

Despite starting the tournament slowly, Grant's Ghana are growing in confidence and class -- both of which were evident in this convincing display.

"We showed a lot of quality today, and that's important for this team," Grant said.

"Every game we are better than the game before. There were chances, many chances and we scored beautiful goals."

Atsu opened the scoring for the Group C winners in the third minute and Kwesi Appiah, making his first competitive start, doubled their lead on the stroke of halftime, firing home from close range after a defensive howler.

Atsu then added a sublime third midway through the second half, with a long-range effort which looks likely to be a contender for goal of the tournament.

"It's true, we've improving," reflected Atsu. "We went for the win and we worked hard for it, not because Guinea are a bad team."

Not since 2006 have Ghana failed to reach the last four of the Nations Cup, and defeated Guinea coach Michel Dussuyer praised Grant's team, albeit questioning if things might have been different for his own.

"Ghana has potential difference-makers, if we make mistakes, we can't advance. If you consider the first goal, then the second, just before halftime, it becomes near-impossible to come back.

"We complicated the match with that goal right at the beginning, there was an immediate loss of confidence, then the gift, things become very complicated against a talented team like Ghana."

Ghana were convincing, but Guinea, who only progressed from Group D following the drawing of lots with Mali, did not do themselves justice and looked weary throughout.

Grant's side celebrated their goals jubilantly with new choreographed dances and were able to see out the contest without much incident as Guinea, whose goalkeeper Naby Yattara was sent off for a late flying kick at Asamoah Gyan, faded. (Editing by Justin Palmer; mark.meadows@thomsonreuters.com; +44 20 7542 7933; Reuters Messaging:; mark.meadows.reuters.com@reuters.net)

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