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Themba Hadebe, Associated Press
Guinea's captain Kamil Zayatte, left, argues with the referee Al Ahrach Bouchaib of Morocco, right, after a penalty was scored during their African Cup of Nations Group D soccer match against Botswana at the Stade de Franceville in Franceville, Gabon, Saturday Jan. 28, 2012.

FRANCEVILLE, Gabon — Ghana found traces of its best form at the African Cup of Nations as impressive goals by Asamoah Gyan and Andre Ayew led it to a 2-0 win over Mali on Saturday and to the brink of the quarterfinals.

Ghana eventually shrugged off its slow start after fighting for an hour to break down a defensive Mali setup in a battle of Group D's favorites at Stade de Franceville.

It appeared to be heading for a scoreless draw until Gyan curled home a free kick and Ayew beat two defenders to fire in a second.

Ghana's victory sealed Botswana's elimination, while the Black Stars, Mali and Guinea will all battle for two quarterfinal places in the final round of matches.

The last acts of the group stage begin on Sunday when Equatorial Guinea and Zambia meet to see who will top Group A.