Sebastien Haller netted the winner for Cote d’Ivoire as the hosts defeated Nigeria 2-1 to win the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, Soocernet.ng reports.
William Troost-Ekong grabbed the opening goal for the Super Eagles, but the Ivorians scored twice in the second half to hand Jose Peseiro’s men their first loss of the tournament.
How it happened
Despite coach Jose Peseiro deploying the same first eleven that defeated the Ivorians in the group stages, Nigeria were second best in the opening stages of the encounter.
For all their possession, however, Cote d’Ivoire struggled to fashion any clear-cut chance, save for a fine Adingra strike, which goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali did well to keep out.
Nigeria remained dangerous on the counterattack, though, and the Super Eagles took the lead from their first corner kick.
Ademola Lookman curled the corner kick into the box, and Troost-Ekong outjumped his marker to head Nigeria in front.
It was Ekong’s third goal at this AFCON and his fifth overall, making him the highest-scoring Nigerian defender in the competition’s history.
Nigeria held the advantage into the halftime break but nearly lost it five minutes into the second period. However, Calvin Bassey made a crucial block on the goal line when Gradel looked certain to score from a goalmouth scramble.
Cote d’Ivoire finally grabbed the equaliser their good play deserved when Kessie headed home from a corner just past the hour mark.
Ten minutes from time, Ivory Coast took the lead via Sebastien Haller’s poked finish.
Nigeria threw everything at the Elephants in the closing stages, but the home team stood firm to lift their third-ever AFCON trophy.