A second half Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang goal in Franceville gave Gabon their third straight victory at the 2012 Africa Cup of

Gabon vrs Tunisia

Nations (Afcon), ensuring that the co-hosts won’t have to leave their country should they qualify for the semi-finals.

Tunisia were the better side in the opening stages, controlling the midfield and applying pressure on the home team with Youssef Msakni initially thriving in a more central role than he has played in previous matches. The Carthage Eagles side peppered Didier Ovono’s goal with plenty of shots, but were unable to find the opener.

Wissem Ben Yahia went close with a long-range effort on 8 minutes after some nifty skill from Msakni. Sabeur Khelifa also caused problems for the Panthers’ defence, barely missing the goal frame with a powerful strike from just outside the penalty area.

It took about 20 minutes for Gabon to get into the match by winning some corners and finding success in relying on long balls played towards the physically imposing Daniel Cousin.

Their most notable opportunity came near the end of the half when Tunisian goalkeeper Rami Jeridi misjudged a cross that was almost steered in by an onrushing Bruno Mbanangoye Zita.

The second half started much like the first, with Tunisia playing their best brand of possession football, but still they lacked the crucial final touch. Sami Trabelsi’s men continued their sterile domination until the 64th minute when a Gabon counter attack concluded with Aubameyang beating Jeridi.

Newly energised, the Gabonese could have scored a second when the Tunisian goalkeeper made another mess of a save attempt, dropping the ball into Cousin’s path but Bilel Ifa recovered well to cover up his team-mate’s mistake.

The Carthage Eagles coach made a number of attack-minded changes in search of an equaliser but Gernot Rohr’s team held firm to give the Panthers their best chance of avoiding Ghana in the quarter-finals.

Gabon top Group C and will face the second-placed side in Group D, while Tunisia will be taking on the top team from the same pool, which will be decided on Wednesday night.

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