Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang played a starring role as co-hosts Gabon got their African Nations Cup campaign off to a winning start with a comfortable victory over tournament debutants Niger in Libreville.

Aubameyang was a major threat to the Niger defence and he opened the scoring in the 30th minute before then playing a key part in the build-up to Gabon's second goal on the stroke of half-time, scored by Stephane N'Guema.

Gabon were quickly on the front foot and, after forcing a number of early corners, they came close to taking the lead through Aubameyang in the 18th minute.

Edmond Mouele's cross from the right wing took a deflection off a Niger defender that allowed it to fall perfectly for the unmarked Aubameyang at the far post but, after bringing the ball down, the St Etienne striker was denied by a good block by Niger goalkeeper Kassaly Daouda.

Aubameyang made no mistake with a similar opportunity 12 minutes later though to put Gabon ahead.

Daouda desperately scrambled across his goal to try to cut out another looping cross from the right, this time from N'Guema, but he was just unable to reach the ball and the 22-year-old Aubameyang was on hand to head in at the far post.

Niger, who caused a huge shock when they finished above three-time reigning champions Egypt and South Africa in qualifying, enjoyed a rare attack in the 42nd minute when Alhassane Issoufou and Boubacar Talatou saw close-range efforts blocked following a corner, but they found themselves 2-0 down three minutes later.

Eric Mouloungui did superbly to win back possession before laying the ball off to Charly Moussono, whose cross looked set to result in Aubameyang's second goal as the 22-year-old launched himself at the ball to power a header goalward.

He was denied by a brilliant save by Daouda, but from the follow-up N'Guema slotted into an empty net.

That proved to be the end of the scoring as Gabon held onto their advantage relatively comfortably in the second half, although they did need a brilliant diving save from Didier Ovono Ebang to keep out Boubacar Issoufou's 78th-minute header.

Gabon might also have increased their lead late but, after defensive error, Aubameyang fired just wide from the edge of the box while Daniel Cousin saw a dipping shot go just over.