Emilio Nsue scored the first Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) hat-trick since 2008 as Equatorial Guinea beat Guinea-Bissau 4-2 on Thursday to close in on a place in the last 16.
Nsue opened the scoring midway through the first half before a sparse crowd at the Ebimpe Olympic Stadium and added two more goals in the second half in a remarkable performance.
The result leaves Equatorial Guinea, who held Nigeria 1-1 in their opening game, with four points in Group A, which also contains hosts Ivory Coast.
With the four best third-placed teams advancing to the last 16, the Nzalang Nacional (National Thunder) are ideally placed to progress as they look to emulate their run to the quarter-finals two years ago.
Captain Nsue, 34, is the first player to score three times in one game at the Cup of Nations since Soufiane Alloudi did so in the first half for Morocco in a 5-1 win over Namibia at the 2008 edition in Ghana.
Born in Mallorca, Nsue began his career at Real Mallorca and played more than 100 times for them in La Liga.
He was part of the Spain team that won the Under-21 Euro in 2011 alongside the likes of David de Gea, Javi Martinez, Thiago Alcantara and Juan Mata.
But he later opted to represent the country of his father and captained the Equatorial Guinea team that reached the AFCON semi-finals as hosts in 2015.
Having later played in the English Championship with Middlesbrough and Birmingham City, Nsue now turns out for Alicante-based Intercity in the Spanish third tier, sometimes playing at right-back.
Leading the Equatorial Guinea attack here, Nsue opened the scoring in the 21st minute but Guinea-Bissau drew level in the 37th minute when Esteban Orozco turned the ball into his own net under pressure from Franculino Dju.
Guinea-Bissau, chasing a first ever AFCON win in their 11th match at the tournament, were awarded a penalty moments later as Dju went down under a Saul Coco challenge.
But with Mama Balde ready to take the kick, the Rwandan referee came across to review the images and eventually overturned his decision.
Josete Miranda restored Equatorial Guinea’s lead two minutes after the restart, the assist coming from a long kick downfield by goalkeeper Jesus Owono.
Nsue then took centre stage, converting a cross from the left flank on 51 minutes and then rounding the goalkeeper to complete his hat-trick just after the hour mark.
The goal was eventually given after initially being ruled out for offside, with Ze Turbo pulling another one back for Guinea-Bissau late on.