The Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire continued their fairytale run as they beat the Super Eagles 2-1 to take the AFCON 2023 title.
Sebastien Haller’s second half volley proved to be the winner for Cote d’Ivoire, as the hosts came back from a goal down to defeat Nigeria 2-1 to win the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan on Sunday night.
‘Captain Fantastic’ William Troost-Ekong grabbed the opening goal for the Super Eagles in the 38th minute with a bullet header, but the Ivorians scored twice in the second half to hand Jose Peseiro’s men their first loss of the tournament.
For all their possession, however, the Elephants 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.