By Liam Morgan

Guinea players celebrate after taking a suprise lead in their Group D match with Ivory Coast ©Getty ImagesIvory Coast endured a tough opening to their Africa Cup of Nations campaign as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Guinea in Malabo.

Guinea took a surprise lead after 36 minutes when Mohamed Yattara volleyed home, before things got even worse for Ivory Coast on 58 minutes as Roma winger Gervinho was given a straight red card for a slap.

But testament to their resilience, the highly-fancied Ivorians managed to salvage a point thanks to Seydou Doumbia, who slotted home with just under 20 minutes to go.

"If it was before the game we wouldn't be happy with this result," Ivory Coast coach Herve Renard said.

"We were not favourites before this group because I think Cameroon were better in qualifying.

"I don't think you can underestimate Guinea.

"But nothing is finished."

Gervinho suffered a moment of madness as he was given a straight red card for slapping Naby Keita ©Getty ImagesGervinho suffered a moment of madness as he was given a straight red card for slapping Naby Keita ©Getty Images

In the other match in Group D, Mali and Cameroon played out the fifth draw of the competition to date as Cameroon's Ambroise Oyongo Bitolo hit a late equaliser after Sambou Yatabare had given Mali a 71st minute lead.

Ivory Coast were perhaps expected to earn a comfortable victory over Guinea with a plethora of attacking quality in their ranks but it was Guinea who struck the first blow.

Ibrahima Traore fired a teasing cross into the box which the Ivorian defenders could only nod into the path of the waiting Yattara, who made no mistake as he fired the ball into the roof of the net.

After the restart, Guinea found themselves both a goal and a man up as Gervinho struck Naby Keita in the face, resulting in the Roma winger being given his marching orders, and Traore himself then had a great chance to extend their lead but his shot struck the bar.

Despite being down to 10 men, Ivory Coast managed to restore parity in the 72nd minute with a goal that demonstrated the class they have in their side.

Wilfried Bony controlled the ball on his chest before he fed Doumbia, who arrowed a low shot into the bottom corner and although Bony did have a late opportunity to snatch a win, both sides in the end settled for a point.

In the other contest in the group, the match didn't really spark into life until Yatabare edged Mali ahead with a neat finish from close range after 71 minutes.

It looked as though Mali were heading for a narrow victory before Oyongo Bitolo controlled a pass in the box and slotted home to rescue a point for Cameroon.

Cameroon defender Ambroise Oyongo rescued a point for his side with an 84th minute equaliser against Mali ©Getty ImagesCameroon defender Ambroise Oyongo rescued a point for his side with an 84th minute equaliser against Mali ©Getty Images

Meanwhile Equitorial Guinea Football Federation president Andres Jorge Mbombio claims the risk of Ebola is "under control", despite clashes between police and fans before Zambia's 1-1 draw with DR Congo.

"When we decided to host the tournament, we increased the preventive measures, so that now we can say everything is under control," Mbombio said.

"We feel proud and reassured, and only want to think of football."

The competition continues with the second round of matches on Wednesday as host nation Equitorial Guinea play Burkina Faso before Gabon entertain Congo.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
January 2015: 
Senegal bag last minute winner to overcome Ghana at Africa Cup of Nations
January 2015: Tunisia held to draw by resilient Cape Verde in Africa Cup of Nations
January 2015: The Equatorial Guinea 2015 Africa Cup of Nations is going to be quite an experience
January 2015: Hosts held to draw as African Cup of Nations opens in raucous fashion
January 2015: Equatorial Guinea to replace Morocco as Africa Cup of Nations hosts