Saturday 18 November 2017

Ivory Coast claim African Cup of Nations after 22 penalty shoot-out

Ivory Coast keeper saves final penalty against Ghana - then slots home the winner sparking extraordinary celebrations

Ivory Coast's players celebrate their victory over Ghana after the final of the 2015 African Cup of Nations soccer tournament in Bata February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Ivory Coast's players celebrate their victory over Ghana after the final of the 2015 African Cup of Nations soccer tournament in Bata February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Ivory Coast's players take off shirt of their head coach Herve Renard of France after winning the African Nations Cup final soccer match against Ghana in Bata February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Ivory Coast's goalkeeper Boubacar Barry celebrates after kicking the final penalty to gain victory over Ghana at the final of the 2015 African Cup of Nations soccer tournament in Bata February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Ivory Coast's players celebrate their victory over Ghana after the final of the 2015 African Cup of Nations soccer tournament in Bata February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Ivory Coast's Yaya Toure celebrates his team's victory over Ghana after the final of the 2015 African Cup of Nations soccer tournament in Bata February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Ivory Coast's captain Yaya Toure raises the trophy after winning the African Nations Cup final soccer match against Ghana in Bata, February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Fans of Ivory Coast soccer team watch a telecast of their team's African Nations Cup final against Ghana on a big screen on a street of Abidjan February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Luc Gnago
Fans of Ivory Coast soccer team watch a telecast of their team's African nation cup final against Ghana on a big screen on a street of Abidjan February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Luc Gnago
Ivory Coast's players celebrate with fans after winning the African Nations Cup final soccer match against Ghana in Bata, February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Ghana's Andre Ayew (L) is comforted by coach Avram Grant after the team's defeat to Ivory Coast in the final of the 2015 African Cup of Nations soccer tournament in Bata February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Members of Ghana's national team gather during the penalty shoot-out at their African Nations Cup final soccer match against Ivory Coast in Bata, February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Ghana's Andre Ayew (front L) is comforted by team mate Jonathan Mensah after the team's defeat to Ivory Coast at the final of the 2015 African Cup of Nations soccer tournament in Bata February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Ivory Coast soccer players celebrate with the trophy after winning their African Cup of Nations final soccer match against Ghana in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
Ivory Coast soccer players celebrate with the trophy after winning their African Cup of Nations final soccer match against Ghana in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
Ivory Coast's Yaya Toure, center, holds up the trophy after winning the African Cup of Nations final soccer match against Ghana in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
Ivory Coast's Yaya Toure, center, holds up the trophy with teammates after winning the African Cup of Nations final soccer match against Ghana in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
Ivory Coast's Yaya Toure, left, receives the trophy from Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema after winning the African Cup of Nations final soccer match against Ghana in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
Ivory Coast's players celebrate their victory over Ghana after the final of the 2015 African Cup of Nations soccer tournament in Bata February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Ivory Coast's players celebrate winning the African Nations Cup final soccer match against Ghana in Bata, February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Ivory Coast's goalkeeper Boubacar Barry scores the winning penalty kick during the African Nations Cup final soccer match against Ghana in Bata, February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Ivorian supporters watch on a screen the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations football final in Equatorial Guinea between Ivory Coast and Ghana, on February 8, 2015 in Abidjan. AFP PHOTO / SIA KAMBOUSIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images
FIFA president Sepp Blatter attends the 2015 African Cup of Nations final football match between Ivory Coast and Ghana in Bata on February 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / CARL DE SOUZACARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images
Ghana's midfielder Afriyie Acquah (R) vies with Ivory Coast's forward Wilfried Bony during the 2015 African Cup of Nations final football match between Ivory Coast and Ghana in Bata on February 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKIKHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
Ivory Coast's Serge Aurier (17) goes for the ball during the African Nations Cup (AFCON 2015) final soccer match against Ghana in Bata, February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Ghana's players line up ahead of the 2015 African Cup of Nations final football match between Ivory Coast and Ghana in Bata on February 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKIKHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo attends the 2015 African Cup of Nations final football match between Ivory Coast and Ghana in Bata on February 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / CARL DE SOUZACARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images
Ghana's and Ivory Coast's players arrive on the pitch ahead of the 2015 African Cup of Nations final football match between Ivory Coast and Ghana in Bata on February 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKIKHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
Ghana's fans cheer before the final of the 2015 African Cup of Nations soccer tournament between Ivory Coast and Ghana in Bata February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Ivory Coast coach Herve Renard reacts during the final of the 2015 African Cup of Nations soccer tournament against Ghana in Bata,February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
An Ivory Coast fan waits for the start of the African Nations Cup final soccer match between Ghana and Ivory Coast in Bata, February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Referee Bakary Papa Gassama of Gambia shows a yellow card to Ivory Coast's Serey Die (C) during the African Nations Cup final soccer match in Bata, February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Ivory Coast ended years of frustration to claim their second African Nations Cup crown following a dramatic penalty shootout victory over Ghana in the final.

The Elephants, whose only previous triumph in the competition came back in 1992, looked set for their third final defeat in nine years when they fell 2-0 behind in the shootout after the teams played out a drab goalless draw in Bata.

Ivory Coast's goalkeeper Boubacar Barry celebrates after kicking the final penalty to gain victory over Ghana at the final of the 2015 African Cup of Nations soccer tournament in Bata February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Ivory Coast's goalkeeper Boubacar Barry celebrates after kicking the final penalty to gain victory over Ghana at the final of the 2015 African Cup of Nations soccer tournament in Bata February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Ivory Coast's goalkeeper Boubacar Barry scores the winning penalty kick during the African Nations Cup final soccer match against Ghana in Bata, February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Ivory Coast's Yaya Toure, center, holds up the trophy after winning the African Cup of Nations final soccer match against Ghana in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
Ivory Coast's players celebrate winning the African Nations Cup final soccer match against Ghana in Bata, February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Ivory Coast's Yaya Toure, center, holds up the trophy with teammates after winning the African Cup of Nations final soccer match against Ghana in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
Ivory Coast's players celebrate their victory over Ghana after the final of the 2015 African Cup of Nations soccer tournament in Bata February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Ivory Coast's Yaya Toure, left, receives the trophy from Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema after winning the African Cup of Nations final soccer match against Ghana in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
Ivory Coast's players take off shirt of their head coach Herve Renard of France after winning the African Nations Cup final soccer match against Ghana in Bata February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Ivory Coast's Yaya Toure celebrates his team's victory over Ghana after the final of the 2015 African Cup of Nations soccer tournament in Bata February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Fans of Ivory Coast soccer team watch a telecast of their team's African Nations Cup final against Ghana on a big screen on a street of Abidjan February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Luc Gnago
Ivory Coast's captain Yaya Toure raises the trophy after winning the African Nations Cup final soccer match against Ghana in Bata, February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Ivory Coast's players celebrate their victory over Ghana after the final of the 2015 African Cup of Nations soccer tournament in Bata February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Ivory Coast's players celebrate their victory over Ghana after the final of the 2015 African Cup of Nations soccer tournament in Bata February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

But Ghana fluffed their lines and Ivorian goalkeeper Boubacar Barry would become the hero in this year's edition when he first saved opposite number Brimah Razak's penalty before stepping up to score his spot-kick and seal a climactic 9-8 success.

Barry created some controversy during the shootout after going down twice with what appeared to be cramp, the second time coming just before he took his decisive kick.

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Whether or not the Lokeren keeper's actions were genuine, it added tension to an encounter that had been decidedly lacking excitement in the previous 120 minutes.

Ghana's Andre Ayew (L) is comforted by coach Avram Grant after the team's defeat to Ivory Coast in the final of the 2015 African Cup of Nations soccer tournament in Bata February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Ghana's Andre Ayew (L) is comforted by coach Avram Grant after the team's defeat to Ivory Coast in the final of the 2015 African Cup of Nations soccer tournament in Bata February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Members of Ghana's national team gather during the penalty shoot-out at their African Nations Cup final soccer match against Ivory Coast in Bata, February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Ghana's Andre Ayew (front L) is comforted by team mate Jonathan Mensah after the team's defeat to Ivory Coast at the final of the 2015 African Cup of Nations soccer tournament in Bata February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Ivory Coast soccer players celebrate with the trophy after winning their African Cup of Nations final soccer match against Ghana in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
Ivory Coast soccer players celebrate with the trophy after winning their African Cup of Nations final soccer match against Ghana in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
Ivory Coast's Yaya Toure, center, holds up the trophy after winning the African Cup of Nations final soccer match against Ghana in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
Ivory Coast's Yaya Toure, center, holds up the trophy with teammates after winning the African Cup of Nations final soccer match against Ghana in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
Ivory Coast's players celebrate with fans after winning the African Nations Cup final soccer match against Ghana in Bata, February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Ivory Coast's players celebrate winning the African Nations Cup final soccer match against Ghana in Bata, February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Ghana's fans cheer before the final of the 2015 African Cup of Nations soccer tournament between Ivory Coast and Ghana in Bata February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Ghana's and Ivory Coast's players arrive on the pitch ahead of the 2015 African Cup of Nations final football match between Ivory Coast and Ghana in Bata on February 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKIKHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
Ivory Coast coach Herve Renard reacts during the final of the 2015 African Cup of Nations soccer tournament against Ghana in Bata,February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
An Ivory Coast fan waits for the start of the African Nations Cup final soccer match between Ghana and Ivory Coast in Bata, February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Referee Bakary Papa Gassama of Gambia shows a yellow card to Ivory Coast's Serey Die (C) during the African Nations Cup final soccer match in Bata, February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Fans of Ivory Coast soccer team watch a telecast of their team's African nation cup final against Ghana on a big screen on a street of Abidjan February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

The contest was billed as a 'dream final' between two of the continent's most prominent teams on the world stage - yet it proved to be uninspiring for large spells.

Herve Renard's men enjoyed a sustained period of pressure in the early going, but they could have easily been reduced to 10 men on the quarter-hour mark.

Serey Die's high studs up challenge on Wakaso Mubarak left its mark on the on-loan Celtic winger but only earned the Ivorian a yellow card.

Ghana defender Baba Rahman should have been punished for giving away possession to Gervinho but Max Gradel's strike from the Roma forward's through ball sailed over.

Ivory Coast's players celebrate winning the African Nations Cup final soccer match against Ghana in Bata, February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Ivory Coast's players celebrate winning the African Nations Cup final soccer match against Ghana in Bata, February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Steadily, though, Ghana grew into the contest and Christian Atsu, Everton's on-loan player from Chelsea, came closest to opening the scoring when his first time, 30-yard blast rattled the post.

The four-time winners continued to grow in confidence and ended the half on top, with Andre Ayew striking the outside of the woodwork with his cross-cum-shot.

It was a game of very few clear cut openings, though, and that continued into the second half.

Ghana were lucky not to go down to 10 men as a tangle between John Boye and Eric Bailly ended with the former appearing to headbutt the latter.

Referee Bakary Gassama opted to take no action and Ivory Coast's sense of aggrievement would have increased had the Ghanaian defender scored from Afriyie Acquah's ball into the area.

As it was, Boye's header narrowly missed the target and that was as close as either side would come until the dying seconds, when Ivorian full-back Serge Aurier's low strike was palmed out by Ghana goalkeeper Razak.

The match predictably went into extra-time, but the pattern of defences remaining on top continued, with both managers reinforcing their striking options with penalties looming.

Jorden Ayew and Frank Acheampong were introduced for Ghana while Salomon Kalou and Junior Tallo came on for the Ivorians.

It appeared the writing was on the wall for Ivory Coast in the shootout when Wilfried Bony and Tallo missed their spot-kicks but Ghana pair Afriyie and Acheampong did likewise.

Neither side were willing to give an inch, but the tension was raised when Ivory Coast shot-stopper Barry - only playing because of an injury to Sylvain Gbohouo - went down midway through the shootout with apparent cramp.

But, at 8-8, he made the decisive save off Ghana keeper Razak and after another brief stoppage, Barry stepped up and slotted home to seal wild Ivorian celebrations in Estadio de Bata.

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