Ivory Coast memorably won the Africa Cup of Nations at home, defeating Nigeria 2-1 in the final on Sunday evening.
William Troost-Ekong’s 38th-minute header put Nigeria ahead in the final, but Franck Kessie equalized in the 62nd minute before Sebastian Haller scored the winner in the 81st minute.
Ivory Coast has won the trophy for the third time in their history, following triumphs in 1992 and 2015, but it proved to be the ultimate blow for three-time winners Nigeria.
Nigeria advanced to the final after defeating Cameroon, Angola, and South Africa in the knockout rounds. Ivory Coast defeated Senegal, Mali, and Congo.
These two countries met in the competition’s group stage last month, with Nigeria prevailing 1-0, and Ivory Coast advanced to the knockout round despite losing two of their three group games, including a shock 4-0 loss to Equatorial Guinea.
Jean-Louis Gasset was fired as head coach two days after the team lost by four goals. Temporary replacement Emerse Fae was appointed, and the forty-year-old has since overseen a historic victory.
The temperature at kickoff was around 30 degrees Celsius, and both teams started cautiously, with neither able to carve out a notable opening in the early exchanges.
Ivory Coast got the opening half-chance of the encounter in the ninth minute, but Haller was unable to connect with Simon Adingra’s dangerous cross.
The hosts dominated the game as it progressed, with Seko Fofana forcing a smart stop from Nigeria goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali during a difficult moment for the Super Eagles.
Max Gradel had another half-chance for Ivory Coast in the 23rd minute, but his acrobatic effort from a corner went into the side-netting, and Nigeria struggled to find their rhythm.
Ivory Coast vs Nigeria | Africa Cup of Nations 2024 | Match Summary
Ivory Coast should have scored in the 36th minute through Adingra. But Nwabali brilliantly stopped his shot, and Nigeria soon took the lead.
The hosts could only half-clear a corner for Troost-Ekong, and the centre-back’s magnificent header reached the top corner to give Nigeria the lead in the 38th minute.
A deflected cross fell into Gradel’s path, giving Ivory Coast a great chance to draw even early in the second half. However, Troost-Ekong made the save, and Nwabali gathered.
The hosts then claimed a penalty in the 52nd minute after Gradel fell down inside the area following a foul from Zaidu Sanusi, but the referee denied it and VAR agreed.
Just before the hour, Jean Michael Seri fired a speculative effort wide of the Nigeria goal, before Kessie found Nwabali’s arms after another break down the left.
Odilon Kossounou forced another reaction save from Nigeria’s goalkeeper in the 61st minute, but Ivory Coast equalized from the resultant corner, with Kessie headed in from close range.
Troost-Ekong headed over the Ivory Coast crossbar in the 69th minute as Nigeria attempted to reclaim the lead, but Ivory Coast stayed on top, with Haller’s magnificent volley barely missing the target in the 74th minute.
Ivory Coast, however, were not to be denied, scored a second goal in the 81st minute through Haller, who flicked a dangerous cross from Adingra into the top corner, sparking joyous scenes within the stadium.
Nigeria applied the pressure in the closing stages, and seven extra minutes were added, but Ivory Coast held on for a stunning Africa Cup of Nations victory at home.