Abidjan, Ivory Coast: In a thrilling final played on home soil, Ivory Coast edged out Nigeria 2-1 to win the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, their third continental title.
Sebastien Haller, the hero of the tournament for the Elephants, once again proved decisive, scoring the winning goal with nine minutes remaining. This moment capped a remarkable comeback after William Troost-Ekong had put Nigeria ahead in the first half.
The match started cautiously, with both sides prioritizing defensive stability. However, Nigeria managed to break the deadlock seven minutes before halftime when Troost-Ekong headed home a corner.
Ivory Coast responded with renewed urgency after the break and their efforts bore fruit in the 62nd minute. Franck Kessie rose unmarked at the back post to nod in the equalizer from a corner.
The momentum shifted further in favor of the hosts as the game progressed. The decisive moment arrived in the 81st minute when Simon Adingra whipped in a teasing cross, which Haller deftly flicked home with his toe to send the Ivorian fans into a frenzy.
Despite Nigeria’s late attempts to find an equalizer, the Elephants held firm to secure their first AFCON title since 2015. This victory caps an incredible journey for Ivory Coast, who overcame the early departure of their coach and rallied behind a resolute defense and Haller’s clinical finishing.