Sebastien Haller’s late goal secures the Africa Cup of Nations victory for Ivory Coast.
With a goal in the dying minutes, Sebastien Haller gave the Ivory Coast a 2-1 victory and the championship. Despite down 1-0 to Nigeria in the championship match, the Elephants rallied the crowd, with Haller emerging as the game’s MVP
For the second time throughout the competition, the striker was included in the Ivorian starting lineup in Abidjan. The Ivory Coast was lucky to make it through the group stages as the fourth-best third-placed team, although Haller was injured during that time. Thereafter, two replacement appearances in the quarterfinal and final 16. With his goal against DR Congo in the semi-final, Haller then decided the match and established himself as the game-winning element for the West African country.
However, at first, it seemed unlikely that the 29-year-old would also emerge victorious in the tournament’s championship game. Because the Nigerians, despite their disadvantage on the field, dominated the first half at the Stade Alassane Ouattara. Shortly before halftime, William Troost-Ekong, the centre back, gave them the lead from a corner (38).
After the break, the orange-clad hosts were still in control of the game and were rewarded when Franck Kessié scored a header to bring the score back to even (62). Driven by the exhilaration of their victory, the Elephants persisted in their advance. A few minutes later, midfielder Simon Adingra broke through on the left of the penalty area, crossed the ball into the middle, and picked out Sebastian Haller, who had missed his first opportunity to put his country ahead with a spectacular scissor kick on the 74th minute. Haller reached the ball one step faster than his marker Troost-Ekong and flicked it into the far corner with the tips of his toes.
The goal marked the Borussia player’s 10th in 25 international games, and it also meant that, when the game’s final whistle blew, Haller was raising his first international championship banner. Haller is the second player in BVB history to win the Africa Cup of Nations while playing for Borussia Dortmund, after Mohamed Zidan, who assisted Egypt in winning the African continental championship in 2010.