Sebastien Haller scored the goal that won Ivory Coast the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on their own turf less than two years after being diagnosed with, and subsequently overcoming, testicular cancer. The Elephants came from behind to defeat Nigeria 2-1 in Abidjan, securing a victory for rookie manager Emerse Fae which looked highly unlikely when he was appointed midway through the tournament. The Ivorians took the game to Nigeria early on, and Brighton winger Simon Adingra cemented his status as one of the stars of the tournament with an electric display. The Super Eagles felt his presence with just over six minutes on the clock as he crossed in for Haller to turn narrowly wide.
Nigeria sat back and accepted having less of the ball during the early exchanges, and they were lucky to avoid falling behind when Max Gradel’s overhead kick hit the side netting, with half of the Alassane Ouattara Stadium believing it had gone in. The hosts began turning the screw after the break as they sought to make up the deficit in front of their home supporters. Adingra was once again at the heart of all things dangerous for Ivory Coast, and he crossed in for Gradel to dispatch a seemingly goal-bound shot, only for Calvin Bassey to make a heroic block inside the six-yard box. With 10 minutes to play, the standout star of the night, Adingra, danced down the left flank and crossed in for Haller, who delivered the deftest of finishes to spark bedlam on the bench as Ivory Coast knew they were within touching distance of a euphoric victory.