- Sebastian Haller produced a stylish finish to give Ivory Coast a historic victory
- Nigeria captain William Troost-Ekong gave his country the lead in the first half
- CHRIS SUTTON on sledging, rude confrontations and verbal jousting on the field – Podcast Everything is beginning
Sebastian Haller’s brilliantly improvised finish was enough to complete a dream victory in the AFCON final for Ivory Coast, who came from behind to beat Nigeria 2-1.
In a tense first half, the first chance of the game fell within ten minutes, when the informed Haller shot wide after Brighton’s Simon Adingra cut inside and delivered a cross.
From there, Côte d’Ivoire’s pressure increased and opportunities arose, with a deeper shot from a corner finding Evan Ndicka, who headed down only for Max Gradel’s acrobatic effort to hit the side netting. .
Under a cacophony of constant drum beats and blaring horns and with emotions running high, Osimhen and N’Dicka were involved in a heated exchange over an alleged elbow to the back of the head.
Minutes later, Nigeria coach José Peseiro was reprimanded for a tirade of insults directed at the fourth official following a foul by Osimhen on Al-Ahli midfielder Franck Kessie.
Sebastian Haller finished brilliantly to give Ivory Coast an incredible AFCON home win
The home side’s best chance of the half came just after the half-hour mark, when Adingra found space on the left side of the box to force a strong save from Stanley Nwabali.
But it was Nigeria who scored first in the final after weathering the Elephants storm, with captain William Troost-Ekong leaping over Serge Aurier to head home and give his team the lead.
Ivory Coast began the second half in much the same way, as Adingra passed to his man to finish off a low cross which fell into the hands of Gradel, whose attempt was cleared off the line by Calvin Bassey.
Gradel was involved just minutes later when Zaidu Sanusi brought him down inside the area, but referee Dahane Beida dismissed any appeal.
Finally, after an hour, Ivory Coast’s pressure paid off when Adingra’s deep corner found the header of Kessie, who headed a powerful header to level the final.
Sebastian Haller had a great opportunity with 25 minutes left, when the striker was about to execute an incredible bicycle kick that went just wide.
The anxiety inside the stadium was palpable, but in the 81st minute, Adingra made the difference again, beating Ola Aina with ease to curl another beautiful cross into the front post.
The ball was rushed to Haller, who somehow got his foot over Troost-Ekong for a brilliant finish and secured a historic AFCON trophy.