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AFCON 2023 Final: Hosts Ivory Coast storm back to claim third AFCON trophy

Ivory Coast overcame a halftime deficit on Sunday to defeat Nigeria by a 2-1 score in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations final at the Stade Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan. Nigeria captain William Troost-Ekong headed the Super Eagles into the lead but the Nigerian defense could not hold on against an Ivorian rampage in the second half with goals from Franck Kessié and Sébastien Haller securing the trophy. It is the third AFCON victory for Ivory Coast, equaling Nigeria’s total with their first conquest since 2015.

The hosts were more eager to push for goals against a familiar Nigerian formation that valued defense and counter-attacking over possession. The Nigerian approach was more successful in the first half with the Super Eagles holding strong against an Ivorian attack that was inefficient in the final third.

Surprisingly, Nigeria snatched the lead in the 38th minute from a set piece. A corner kick service from Ademola Lookman to the near post was headed high into the air towards the center of the penalty area where Troost-Ekong outmuscled Ivorian right back Serge Aurier for a powerful header that looped past goalkeeper Yahia Fofana.

From then on the Nigerian team attempted to hold on but all the signs were there of an Ivorian comeback. Nigeria defender Calvin Bassey’s crucial block on a shot from Max Gradel maintained the Nigerian lead in the 50th minute but the leveler arrived in the 62nd minute for the Elephants when a Simon Adingra corner kick found Kessié for a header past Super Eagles goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali.

Adingra continued to cause all sorts of problems for the Nigerian defense and the Brighton and Hove Albion forward was also responsible for creating the goal that won it for Ivory Coast in the 81st minute. Quick dribbling on the left wing saw Adingra get by Nigeria right back Ola Aina and his hard cross to the near post found Haller, who snuck in ahead of Troost-Ekong to volley in and give Ivory Coast a lead they would not relinquish.

Video of the goals from the final are below.

Match Highlights

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