Haller hits winner as Ivory Coast beat Nigeria to take Afcon title

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Sebastien Haller scored a dramatic late winner as hosts Ivory Coast fought again to beat Victor Osimhen’s Nigeria 2-1 in Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations ultimate and full essentially the most outstanding of main event turnarounds by claiming their third continental title.

Nigeria appeared set to repeat their 1-0 victory over the Ivorians right here on the Ebimpe Olympic Stadium in the course of the group stage when captain William Troost-Ekong -– who had netted a penalty to determine that first assembly -– rose to go within the opener late within the first half.

Nevertheless, Franck Kessie equalised simply after the hour mark and Haller turned in Simon Adingra’s cross within the 81st minute to spark wild celebrations among the many sea of orange within the Abidjan stands.

Ivory Coast’s success sees them add this 12 months’s title to these claimed in 1992 and 2015, whereas this win additionally permits them to hitch Nigeria on three Cup of Nations triumphs general.

Solely Egypt, Cameroon and Ghana have received the title extra typically, with the Tremendous Eagles squandering the chance to match their Ghanaian rivals on 4 victories.

Spearheaded by reigning African participant of the 12 months Osimhen, the Nigerians had appeared essentially the most formidable group within the competitors over the past month.

However Ivory Coast’s sense of future was just too overpowering, as they turned the primary host nation to win the AFCON since 2006.

Didier Drogba captained the Elephants group that misplaced on penalties to Egypt in Cairo in that ultimate 18 years in the past, whereas this time he was among the many spectators to witness a shocking victory for his nation.

Again from the brink

It’s an unimaginable achievement for a aspect that was getting ready to elimination within the group stage after shedding 4-0 to Equatorial Guinea on January 22.

That was their heaviest ever residence defeat and the Ivorians then parted firm with coach Jean-Louis Gasset, changing him with Emerse Fae, a teammate of Drogba’s in 2006.

They then started a outstanding turnaround which noticed them oust holders Senegal on penalties, beat Mali with a last-gasp purpose in additional time, and edge out DR Congo with a Haller purpose within the final 4.

Their supporters packed out the stadium to its 60,000 capability, with many followers having to observe the sport from vantage factors on stairways.

Anybody desirous to dampen the thrill ranges may need identified that Cup of Nations finals are typically low-scoring affairs.

There have been simply 10 objectives scored within the final 11 finals, 5 of which have been selected penalties after a 0-0 stalemate.

Certainly, Ivory Coast’s 4 earlier ultimate appearances had all ended goalless earlier than going to penalties, two of which they’d received.

This appeared set to be one other nervy, low-scoring affair with probabilities few and much between early on.

Nevertheless the house aspect then had an important probability on 34 minutes when Kessie discovered Adingra on the left and his shot was turned away by Nigerian goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali.

That proved essential as Nigeria went forward simply 4 minutes later when Ademola Lookman’s nook from the left was touched on and Troost-Ekong headed in from the sting of the six-yard space.

Earlier within the event the Ivorians would have crumbled in such a state of affairs, however they deserve nice credit score for regrouping on the interval and throwing all the things at Nigeria.

Max-Alain Gradel’s netbound shot was blocked in entrance of the road by Calvin Bassey 5 minutes after the restart, earlier than Nwabali turned an Odilon Kossounou long-range piledriver across the put up on 62 minutes.

They drew degree from the nook which adopted that, as Kessie -– whose late penalty had rescued the hosts towards Senegal within the final 16 –- appeared on the again put up to go into the online.

It appeared inevitable {that a} second Ivory Coast purpose would observe and it duly did with 9 minutes of the 90 to play as Haller bought his studs to Adingra’s cross and diverted the ball into the far nook.

Behind for the primary time since their opening match, Nigeria couldn’t react, and Ivory Coast held on for victory.

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