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Nigeria 1 CIV 2: Troost-Ekong breaks record but Elephants come from behind to stun Super Eagles in AFCON final

Ivory Coast have won the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations after coming from behind to secure a 2-1 victory over the Super Eagles in Sunday’s final at the  Alassane Ouattara Stadium, Abidjan.

Ivory Coast got the first sight at goal in the 6th minute with Simon Adingra making a low cross into the penalty area but Sébastien Haller couldn’t make the necessary touch to put the ball into the net.

A minute later, Seko Fofana found Adingra who weaved past Ola Aina before firing a shot over the crossbar.

The host kept mounting the pressure on the Nigerian defense when Max Gradel delivered a low cross into the penalty area which was cleared by Aina.

 

The corner kick will result in another chance for the Elephants with Fofana attempting a long-range shot that couldn’t threaten the Nigerian goal.

A moment of error from Zaidu Sanusi in the 19th minute will present another chance to Ivory Coast from a corner kick but Gradel’s attempted overhead kick could cause no harm.

Stanley Nwabali was forced to make his first save in the 33rd minute with Franck Kessié finding the run of Adingra whose shot was parried away for a corner kick.

 

The Super Eagles opened the scoring in the 38th minute with their first attempt on goal from  William Troost-Ekong’s thumping header.

In doing so, the 30-year-old took his overall tally at the Africa Cup of Nations to five goals and became the highest scoring defender in the history of the competition.

 

Ivory Coast came close to getting the equalizer in the 44th minute when Haller attempted to play Kessie through on goal but Nwabali was quick to come off his line.

Four minutes into the additional time of the first half, Fofana attempted another long-range effort but it wasn’t enough to trouble Nwabali.

 

Gradel got the first chance of the second half in the 49th minute when he attempted to restore parity for the host but Calvin Bassey was in the right position to make a good block.

The Elephants had another attempt on goal in the 59th minute as Kessie attempted to nod the ball into the net but was denied by Nwabali.

The former Barcelona midfielder would restore parity with a good header from Adingra’s well-delivered corner kick in the 62nd minute.

Troost-Ekong was presented with an opportunity to restore Nigeria’s lead in the 68th minute from a set piece but couldn’t direct his attempt towards goal.

In the 73rd minute, Haller came close to  scoring with an overhead kick from Adingra’s header but the former’s attempt drifted wide from goal.

The Borussia Dortmund striker would give the Elephants the lead in the 81st minute from Adingra’s cross and that would prove to be the difference between both sides.

The Super Eagles will now have to wait till 2025 at least to win their fourth Africa Cup of Nations title.

 

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