Sport

BREAKING: Haller Gives Ivory Coast Victory In Afcon Final

Sebastien Haller was the hero for Ivory Coast again as the Elephants came from behind to beat Nigeria and win the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations final on home soil.

The striker, who had also netted the semi-final winner just 13 months on from his return from testicular cancer, flicked in Simon Adingra’s cross with the toe of his boot with nine minutes remaining to complete a second-half comeback and spark wild celebrations in Abidjan.

William Troost-Ekong had put Nigeria ahead seven minutes before the end of a cagey first half when the centre-back rose highest to powerfully head in from nine yards out following a corner.

Franck Kessie nodded in the equaliser in the 62nd minute when he was left unmarked at the back post from Adingra’s corner.

After a remarkable run to the final, which included the departure of coach Jean-Louis Gasset after two defeats in the group stage, the Ivorians clinched a third continental title with a deserved victory.

The West Africans add to their previous Nations Cup wins in 1992 and 2015 and become the first tournament hosts to triumph since Egypt lifted the trophy in 2006.

Interim coach Emerse Fae masterminded Ivory Coast’s passage through the knockout stages, which included dramatic victories over defending champions Senegal and Mali after late equalisers in both games.

Nigeria, three-time continental champions themselves, had previously been unbeaten at the finals, including a 1-0 win over the Ivorians in the group stage, but the Super Eagles rarely imposed themselves after sitting back for most of the contest.