Ghana booked their place in the knockout stages of the 2017 African Nations Cup as they saw off Mali 1-0 at Stade de Port-Gentil on Saturday evening.

The Black Stars looked destined to take the lead after just eight minutes as Andre Ayew’s miscued header landed in the path of his brother Jordan, but the Aston Villa forward somehow failed to make a connection and a golden chance went begging.

The Ghana fans wouldn’t have to wait too long for a goal, though, with Asamoach Gyan finding the opener after 21 minutes, with the skipper getting on the end of Jordan Ayew’s delivery to head past Oumar Sissoko and into the back of the net.

Mali finally managed their first shot on target three minutes after half-time, but Moussa Marega could only direct his header straight at Razak Braimah, who easily collected the danger.

The Eagles continued plugging away for an equaliser and again came close with 20 minutes remaining, but Moussa Doumbia’s rasping volley was always rising and fizzed just inches over the crossbar.

It wasn’t to be Mali’s day, though, as they were twice denied a leveler in the final 10 minutes, with Souleymane Coulibaly first seeing his effort cleared off the line, before Doumbia’s deflected delivery was brilliantly kept out by the athletic goalkeeping of Braimah.