Sebastien Haller scored a late goal as the Ivory Coast won the Africa Cup of Nations final 2-1 and sealed the title. The Elephants went 1-0 down against Nigeria in the final but turned the game around in front of home support, with Haller becoming the hero.
The striker was in the Ivorian starting line-up in Abidjan for the second time at the tournament. Haller was sidelined with injury during the group stages, which the Ivory Coast were fortunate to scrape through as the fourth-best third-placed team. Two substitute appearances in the last 16 and quarter-final followed. Haller then decided the semi-final with his goal against DR Congo and already became the decisive factor for the West African nation there.
But the balance of play initially did not indicate that the 29-year-old would also be the hero of the night in the final match of the tournament too. Because the stage in the first half at the Stade Alassane Ouattara belonged to the Nigerians, who – despite their inferiority on the pitch – took the lead shortly before the break through centre-back William Troost-Ekong after a corner (38).
The orange-clad hosts continued to dominate the proceedings after the interval and got their reward when Franck Kessié restored parity with a header (62). Spurred on by the euphoria of the comeback, the Elephants continued to push forward. Sebastian Haller initially spurned the chance to fire his country into the lead with a spectacular scissor kick on the 74-minute mark, but he went one better several minutes later: midfielder Simon Adingra broke through on the left of the penalty area, crossed the ball into the middle and picked out Haller, who got to the ball a step quicker than his marker Troost-Ekong and flicked it into the far corner with the tips of his toes.
It was the Borussia player's 10th goal in 25 international matches and also meant that Haller was celebrating his first title at international level once the final whistle in the match sounded. After Mohamed Zidan, who helped Egypt win the African continental title in 2010, Haller is the second player in BVB history to win the Africa Cup of Nations as an active Borussia Dortmund player.