At the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan on Sunday night, Ivory Coast overcame a goal deficit to overcome Nigeria 2-1 and win the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.
Franck Kessie and Sebastien Haller’s goals in the second half gave the Elephants their third continental victory and made them the first host champions since Egypt in 2006.
William Troost-Ekong’s goals for the Super Eagles gave them a 1-0 lead at the half.
When Simon Adingra’s cross from the left zipped across the penalty area in the seventh minute, Sebastien Haller was unable to get enough of a touch with his outstretched foot to direct it on target, giving Ivory Coast the first real chance to score.
After 21 minutes, Max Gradel attempted an impressive volley from a loose ball in the penalty area, but his shot rippled the side netting as the hosts looked dangerous offensively.
After a superb passing move put Adingra in space down the left of the penalty box, the Elephants forced the first significant save of the match on minute 34 when Nigerian custodian Stanley Nwabali palmed away Adingra’s low effort.
Against the run of play, the Super Eagles took the lead in the 38th minute when William Troost-Ekong powered home a header after a pass looped in the penalty area, giving them a 1-0 lead despite their lacklustre offensive effort.
After the break, behind by one goal at the half, Ivory Coast increased their attacking pressure. On minute 49, Gradel drove a loose ball into the penalty area towards goal, but Calvin Bassey stopped him to retain Nigeria ahead.
After an hour, Nwabali diverted Odilon Kossounou’s long-range drive around the post, giving the Elephants a corner. On the sixty-third minute, Adingra’s set piece saw the midfielder Franck Kessie nod home from a few yards out to tie the score at one.
Eleven minutes later, Haller attempted an overhead kick that went wide of the mark after Adingra placed a hopeful header into the heart of the penalty area.
On 81 minutes, though, the Elephants finally pulled off a comeback when Adingra crossed from the left and Haller positioned his leg in front of Troost-Ekong to flick the ball into the net for a 2-1 advantage.
The final whistle confirmed an amazing Afcon victory for the team in orange as the host nation held off Nigeria’s late attempts to equalise.