Nigeria 1-2 Ivory Coast: Sebastian Haller’s incredible finish late-on gives the Elephants their dream home AFCON win despite sacking their manager in the group stages

Sebastian Haller’s brilliantly improvised finish was enough to complete a dream AFCON final win for Ivory Coast as they came from behind to beat Nigeria 2-1.

The Borussia Dortmund forward completed an incredible storyline after recovering from testicular cancer to secure his country’s third ever AFCON trophy.

The Elephants had endured a rocky way to the final, losing twice and acking head coach Jean-Louis Gasset.

Meanwhile a starstudded Nigeria side had cruised through the group stages before fending off a spirited South Africa side on penalties.

But it was Haller who had the last laugh, stabbing home a quality finish to send the home crowd wild. 

Ivory Coast lift the African Cup of Nations trophy after narrowly beating Nigeria 2-1

Ivory Coast lift the African Cup of Nations trophy after narrowly beating Nigeria 2-1

Ivory Coast veteran Max-Alain Gradel with the President of the west African nation Alassane Ouattara

Ivory Coast veteran Max-Alain Gradel with the President of the west African nation Alassane Ouattara

Sebastian Haller brilliantly finished to give Ivory Coast an incredible home AFCON victory

Sebastian Haller brilliantly finished to give Ivory Coast an incredible home AFCON victory 

Ivory Coast's players wheel away in celebration as they successfully win their home AFCON tournament

Ivory Coast’s players wheel away in celebration as they successfully win their home AFCON tournament

MATCH FACTS

Nigeria (3-4-3): Nwabali; Ajayi, Troost-Ekong, Bassey; Aina, Onyeka, Iwobi, Sanusi; Chukwueze, Osimhen, Lookman. 

Scorers: Troost-Ekong

Manager: José Peseiro

Ivory Coast (4-3-3): Y. Fofana; Aurier, Koussounou, N’Dicka, Konan; Kessie, Seri, Fofana; Gradel, Haller, Adingra.

Scorers: Kessie, Haller

Interim Manager: Emerse Fae

Referee: Dahane Beida

Attendance: 3 

In a spiky first half the opening chance of the game fell inside 10 minutes, as the inform Haller flicked an effort wide after Brighton’s Simon Adingra cut inside and delivered an in-swinging cross.

From there Ivory Coast’s pressure grew and chances brewed, with a deeper delivery from a corner finding Evan Ndicka who headed down only for Max Gradel’s acrobatic effort hit the side netting.

Under a cacophony of consistent drum-beating and horn-blaring and with emotions high, Osimhen and N’Dicka were involved in a heated exchange over a supposed elbow in the back of the head.

Minutes later and Nigeria boss Jose Peseiro was booked for a tirade of abuse directed at the fourth official following an Osimhen foul on Al-Ahli midfielder Franck Kessie.

The best chance of the half for the hosts came just after the half hour mark, as Adingra was found in space on the left hand side of the box to force a strong save from Stanley Nwabali.

But it was Nigeria who struck first in the final after weathering the Elephants’ storm, with captain William Troost-Ekong leaping high above Serge Aurier to power home a header and give his side the lead.

Ivory Coast started the second half in much the same fashion, as Adingra skipped past his man to drive in a low cross that fell to Gradel who had his effort cleared off the line by Calvin Bassey. 

Gradel was involved barely a few minutes later when he was brought down inside the area by Zaidu Sanusi, but referee Dahane Beida waved away any appeals.

Al-Ahli midfielder Franck Kessie celebrates after his srong header from a corner equalised for Ivory Coast

Al-Ahli midfielder Franck Kessie celebrates after his srong header from a corner equalised for Ivory Coast

Sebastian Haller goes for the spectacular in the second half with his effort narrowly flying wide

Sebastian Haller goes for the spectacular in the second half with his effort narrowly flying wide 

Nigeria celebrate with captain William Troost-Ekong after he gave them an early lead

Nigeria celebrate with captain William Troost-Ekong after he gave them an early lead

Finally, with an hour gone, Ivory Coast’s pressure paid off when Adingra’s deep corner found the head of Kessie who directs home a powerful header to square the final. 

A huge chance fell to Sebastian Haller with 25 minutes to go as the striker nearly pulled off an incredible bicycle kick that flew narrowly wide. 

Anxiety within the stadium was palpable, but with 81 minutes gone Adingra once again proved to be the difference maker as he beat Ola Aina with ease to deliver another beautiful front post cross.

Charging in to meet the ball was Haller, who somehow reached his foot round Troost-Ekong to stab home a brilliant finish and secure a historic AFCON trophy.

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