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Ivory Coast clinch AFCON spot with comfortable 3-0 road victory in Niger

It was a relatively easy win for Ivory Coast as the Elephants defeated Niger 3-0 in Niamey on Friday to achieve qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations. Tottenham Hotspur right-back Serge Aurier scored the opener and then set up veteran playmaker Max Gradel to give the Ivorians a 2-0 lead by halftime that was never threatened. The result moves Ivory Coast back into top spot in Group K, one point ahead of Ethiopia and three ahead of Madagascar.

The pressure was on the Ivorians to deliver three points and avoid any drama on the final day against Ethiopia. Niger showed some promise in the early stages but in the 25th minute poor set piece defending conceded the opener. A corner-kick to the far post led to a show shot that was weakly parried by Nigerien goalkeeper Daouda Kassaly into the path of Aurier, who struck his effort off a flailing Kassaly into the goal.

Nearly ten minutes later the Elephants found the second when Aurier’s superb cross found an open Gradel to easily volley home. The anemic Nigerien attack failed to generate much in response and defender Serge Kanon finished the scoring in the 60th minute with a pinpoint looping header.

Both teams will have the opportunity to play spoiler in their final games now knowing their fates. Ivory Coast will host second-place Ethiopia while eliminated Niger travel to Madagascar. Highlights of the match are below.

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