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AFCON 2023: Ivory Coast overpowers DR Congo to confirm spot in final

2023 Africa Cup of Nations hosts Ivory Coast will face fellow West African nation Nigeria in the final on Sunday following a 1-0 victory over the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday in Abidjan. A volley from Elephants striker Sébastien Haller looped over Congolese goalkeeper Lionel Mpasi for the only goal of the match in the second half to spark Ivorian jubilation at the Stade Alassane Ouattara. Ivory Coast will seek their third Africa Cup of Nations trophy on Sunday while DR Congo face South Africa in the Third Place Match on Saturday.

The home supporters were in full voice on Wednesday and played a large part in an energized performance from the Elephants who were relentless on the pitch. The Congolese defense managed to hold strong in the first half but opportunities arrived for the Ivorians through right back Wilfried Singo, who provided accurate crosses that resulted in headers from Simon Adingra and Haller which both went wide. Ivorian midfielder Franck Kessié came closest at the end of the half when he rattled the post with a low effort.

DR Congo had an opportunity to strike in the opening three minutes of the second half when halftime substitute Théo Bongonda drove past two defenders into the penalty area but his shot went into the side netting. From then on it was Ivorian dominance and the decisive moment arrived in the 65th minute when Max Gradel floated a cross from the right wing to the far post. Haller did not make the strongest connection on his volley but the ball bounced high off the pitch and looped over a helpless Mpasi before settling in the goal.

A desperate comeback attempt from the Congolese proved fruitless as the Leopards struggled to make any progress and were limited to hopeful half chances. Ivory Coast held on for a decisive victory and appear to be fully confident ahead of Sunday’s final.

Highlights of the match are below.

Match Highlights

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