Ivory Coast crowned African champions

2015-02-09 00:34

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Ivory Coast beat Ghana 9-8 in a penalty shootout in the Africa Cup of Nations final in Bata, Equatorial Guinea.

It was Ivory Coast’s second continental title and almost a repeat of the 1992 final when they defeated Ghana on penalties in Dakar, Senegal, when the shoot-out ended 11-10.

Ivory Coast keeper Boubacar Barry ended the penalty deadlock when first saving from Ghana keeper Razak Brimah before converting the deciding spot kick.

After a goalless 90 minutes and extra-time, Ghana got an early edge at 2-0 in the shoot-out after Ivory Coast – through Wilfried Bony and Gadji Tallo – missed the team’s first spot kicks.

But 35-year-old keeper Barry then saved from Afriyie Acquah, and Opoku Acheampong shot wide, and from then on Ivory Coast converted all their penalties.

Serge Avrier, Seydou Doumbia, Yaya Touré, Salomon Kalou, Kolo Touré, Wilfried Kanon, Eric Bailly and Serey Die all made sure before Barry’s winner for the Elephants.

The title was also a triumph for the team’s coach French Herve Renard, who won the African title with Zambia in 2012 – an 8-7 penalty shoot-out victory over Ivory Coast.

Ghana had looked the likelier to score in a tight final, twice hitting the woodwork in the first half, but the two sides largely cancelled each other out for most of the regular and extra-time.

Max Gradel went close on 16 minutes for Ivory Coast with an effort from outside the area over the bar.

Ten minutes later Ghana's Christian Atsu struck the left-hand post from 20 metres, and the Black Stars again went close on 36 minutes when André Ayew’s attempted cross for Asamoah Gyan came off the near post.

Ghana continued to be marginally the more dangerous after the break and John Boye headed a free-kick wide of the post in the closest either side came to a goal.

The final though largely fell flat in a cagey encounter between two sides who went out in the group stage at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, until the drama of the penalties.

The extra period saw no clearcut opportunities, although Gyan saw his long-range shot deflected away by Bailly for a corner which came to nothing.

There was brief alarm for Ivory Coast when Yaya Touré lost possession but Jordan Ayew running into the area was blocked by brother Kolo Touré at the expense of a corner.

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