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Hosts Côte d’Ivoire Elephants win AFCON, beat Super Eagles 2-1

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Sebastien Haller scored a dramatic late winner as hosts Ivory Coast fought back to beat Victor Osimhen’s Nigeria 2-1 in Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations final and complete the most remarkable of major tournament turnarounds by claiming their third continental title.

Nigeria looked set to repeat their 1-0 victory over the Ivorians here at the Ebimpe Olympic Stadium during the group stage when captain William Troost-Ekong – who had netted a penalty to decide that first meeting – rose to head in the opener late in the first half.

However, Franck Kessie equalised just after the hour mark and Haller turned in Simon Adingra’s cross in the 81st minute to spark wild celebrations among the sea of orange in the Abidjan stands.

Ivory Coast’s success sees them add this year’s title to those claimed in 1992 and 2015, while this win also allows them to join Nigeria on three Cup of Nations triumphs overall.

Only Egypt, Cameroon and Ghana have won the title more often, with the Super Eagles squandering the opportunity to match their Ghanaian rivals on four victories.

Spearheaded by reigning African player of the year Osimhen, the Nigerians had looked the most formidable team in the competition over the last month.

But Ivory Coast’s sense of destiny was simply too overpowering, as they became the first host country to win the AFCON since 2006.

Didier Drogba captained the Elephants team that lost on penalties to Egypt in Cairo in that final 18 years ago, while this time he was among the spectators to witness a stunning victory for his country.

– Back from the brink –

It is an incredible achievement for a side that was on the brink of elimination in the group stage after losing 4-0 to Equatorial Guinea on January 22.

That was their heaviest ever home defeat and the Ivorians then parted company with coach Jean-Louis Gasset, replacing him with Emerse Fae, a teammate of Drogba’s in 2006.

They then began a remarkable turnaround which saw them oust holders Senegal on penalties, beat Mali with a last-gasp goal in extra time, and edge out DR Congo with a Haller goal in the last four.

Their supporters packed out the stadium to its 60,000 capacity, with many fans having to watch the game from vantage points on stairways.Related News

Anyone wanting to dampen the excitement levels might have pointed out that Cup of Nations finals tend to be low-scoring affairs.

There were just 10 goals scored in the last 11 finals, five of which were decided on penalties after a 0-0 stalemate.

Indeed, Ivory Coast’s four previous final appearances had all ended goalless before going to penalties, two of which they had won.

This looked set to be another nervy, low-scoring affair with chances few and far between early on.

However, the home side then had a great chance on 34 minutes when Kessie found Adingra on the left and his shot was turned away by Nigerian goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali.

That proved crucial as Nigeria went ahead just four minutes later when Ademola Lookman’s corner from the left was touched on and Troost-Ekong headed in from the edge of the six-yard area.

Earlier in the tournament the Ivorians would have crumbled in such a scenario, but they deserve great credit for regrouping at the interval and throwing everything at Nigeria.

Max-Alain Gradel’s netbound shot was blocked in front of the line by Calvin Bassey five minutes after the restart before Nwabali turned an Odilon Kossounou long-range piledriver around the post on 62 minutes.

They drew level from the corner that followed that, as Kessie -– whose late penalty had rescued the hosts against Senegal in the last 16 –- appeared at the back post to head into the net.

It seemed inevitable that a second Ivory Coast goal would follow and it duly did with nine minutes of the 90 to play as Haller got his studs to Adingra’s cross and diverted the ball into the far corner.

Behind for the first time since their opening match, Nigeria could not react, and Ivory Coast held on for victory.

AFP

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Ex-Super Eagles goalie, Egbo wants to continue from where coach Peseiro stopped

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Ex-Nigerian goalkeeper Ndubuisi Emmanuel Egbo has thrown his hat in the battle for the vacant Super Eagles coaching role.

Former Nigeria goalkeeper Ndubuisi Emmanuel Egbo has said he would be open to taking the vacant coaching role with the Super Eagles.

Recall the search for the next Nigeria coach has begun after Jose Peseiro parted ways with the team following a 22-month stint.

Egbo, who made history as the first African coach to win a major European league title, spoke about the Super Eagles role following his feat years ago in Albania.

“It is my country, I’m 100% Nigerian even though I have a European passport,” Egbo told Channels TV in an interview.

Emmanuel Egbo started off his managerial career as a goalkeeper coach.
Emmanuel Egbo started off his managerial career as a goalkeeper coach. (Photo Credit: Egbo/IG)
“Anytime I’m called upon to come and help, to raise the football of my country up because I am expecting Nigeria one day to be challenging to win the World Cup, which we have not done for a long time now.”

“So, I’m always open; we can never say never to our country,” he stated about the possibility of managing the Nigerian job if offered.

It’s like a military service that anytime we are called upon we have to do it for our country,” he added.

The 50-year-old led KF Tirana to the Albanian league title in 2019/2020 season – their first championship in 11 years.

Egbo is a former Super Eagles goalkeeper, earning 12 caps and playing at two Africa Cup of Nations tournaments – 2000 and 2002.

After retiring, he moved into coaching, starting as a goalkeeper coach before he worked his way up to become Tirana manager three years ago.

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Our Performance Against City Was Very Good, Says Ten Hag

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Manchester United boss, Erik Ten Hag, believes his side put in a very good performance against Manchester City on Sunday but were unlucky not to get a point out of the game

The Red Devils had a bright start as early as the eight-minute with a 26-yard screamer from Marcus Rashford to beat Ederson but a Phil Foden double turned the tide in City’s favour, before Erling Haaland put the game to rest in injury time.

But the Dutchman says his side did well despite the defeat at the Etihad Stadium.

”I think also [in] defending, we closed the middle very good, we defended the box very good. So the performance from our side was very good,” he said in a post-match interview.

“It’s about getting behind the defending line and with the speed from Garnacho and Rashford. And I think that went very well – we were already up after a couple of minutes. Good breakthrough from Garnacho, Rashford was in the perfect scoring position and then, quickly after the goal from Rashford, we had our moments and more throughout the game.”

‘A Win Was Possible’
Ten Hag indicated that he was impressed with how his side’s tactical awareness, feeling they were simply undone in a couple of ‘defining moments’,

”We had our moments after it as well, to go for a second one. I think we defended very well. But then [there were] two I will say defining moments where we almost make a breakthrough and we conceded the first goal and also the second goal after also a defining moment, when Garnacho is through on the break. So yeah, then you are disappointed,” he said.

”We have to accept it, but it is what it is. But still, I think we had the opportunity to at least get one point, but also a win was possible.”

Despite the loss, the Dutchman believes his side are still improving and do not need to dwell on a bad night at the Etihad.

“We had one bad, bad performance last week [against Fulham], where we didn’t play that well, but from this year on, I think we are really progressing. You have to get some points back, and then you have to win a game like today against City. And there are more coming games,” he said.

”There are still many games to play and everyone can beat everyone. So things can quickly turn around. So we have to win our games. Number five could be a position for the Champions League, so, as I say, we have to fight for it.”

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Details Of How Man City Beat Man Utd 3-1 To Close In On Liverpool

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Phil Foden scored twice as Man City came from behind to beat Man United 3-1 on Sunday and close to within one point of Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Erling Haaland also struck in stoppage time to leave the title race perfectly poised ahead of City’s trip to Liverpool next weekend.

Marcus Rashford’s wonder strike had fired United into a shock lead at the Etihad.

Haaland was then guilty of a miss that will go down in Premier League folklore when he fired over with an open goal just before half-time.

Foden ensured City did not slip up in the title race as he blasted into the top corner to level and produced a composed finish 10 minutes from time.

Haaland then rolled in his sixth goal in four Premier League derbies against United to atone for his earlier miss.

An 11th league defeat of the season for United leaves Erik ten Hag’s men 11 points adrift of the top four with 11 games remaining.

The former Ajax boss was furious that City’s equaliser was allowed to stand as he claimed Rashford had been fouled at the other end seconds earlier.

But United could have few complaints after being thoroughly outplayed by their rivals for almost the entire match.

Rashford rounded on his critics this week as he hit back at questions of his commitment.

The England international has been a pale imitation of the forward who scored 30 goals last season for most of this campaign but showed a glimpse of the quality he is capable of to open the scoring on eight minutes.

City pleaded in vain for an offside flag against Bruno Fernandes and he layed the ball back for Rashford to smash in a stunning long-range effort off the underside of the bar.

Pep Guardiola’s men dominated from that moment on but were kept at bay for nearly an hour by wayward finishing and some fine goalkeeping by Andre Onana.

Twice the Cameroonian foiled Foden when clean through, while Rodri was also denied by a smart stop low to his left.

At the other end, Rashford should have doubled United’s lead before the break.

A slip from Ruben Dias put Rashford clean through, but a poor touch allowed Kyle Walker to race back and clear.

United’s lead remained intact until half-time but only thanks to a moment that will be replayed for years to come.

City finally cut the visitors’ mass ranks of defence to shreds as Rodri’s cross was headed back across goal by Foden, inviting the finishing touch by Haaland.

However, he incredibly turned the ball over with the goal gaping from point-blank range.

The rearguard action from the Red Devils was finally undone as Foden produced a strike to match Rashford’s in the first half.

Ten Hag was furious that a foul had not been awarded to Rashford at the other end, but he appeared to go to the ground too easily under contact from Walker.

Rodri picked out Foden, who cut inside and arrowed a blistering shot into the top corner.

A slick one-two between Foden and Julian Alvarez opened up the United defence for the decisive goal as the England international fired in his 18th of the season.

Haaland’s redemption rounded off a fine afternoon for the English champions.

Rodri dispossessed Sofyan Amrabat and teed up the Norwegian to curl beyond Onana.

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