AFCON 2015: And Ayew Wept As Ghana Looses Dramatic Penalty Shoot-Out To Cote d'Ivoire As Drogba Celebrates
Ivory Coast won their first Africa Cup of Nations since 1992 in dramatic fashion, beating Ghana 9-8 on penalties.
Wilfried Bony smashed his spot-kick against the crossbar but the Elephants recovered in the shoot-out, eventually taking the title when goalkeeper Boubacar Barry saved from his opposite number Razak Braimah and then stepped up to score.
It was an exciting end to a game that had been anything but, with Premier League stars Bony and Yaya Toure unable to create enough to win the game in 90, or even 120 minutes.
Toure forced Razak Brimah into a save from an early free kick, and was generally more involved than he has been in the tournament’s previous games. However, once again, the Ivorian captain was less than the star we know he can be when played further forward.
Ahead of him Bony was even more frustrated, unable to get into the game and carrying none of the goal-threat that saw him become the Premier League’s top scorer in 2014. Time after time City’s newest striker failed to hold the ball, or to find a team-mate once he had got it under control.
Indeed, as has been the case for much of this season, the City stars were outshone for most of the game by a Chelsea counterpart. Christian Atsu, who has shown throughout this tournament why Everton made such an effort to secure him on loan this season, was the best player on the pitch for much of the game.
His excellent play on the right wing brought most of Ghana’s attacking joy, most notably when he got in behind and crossed for captain Asamoah Gyan in the 70th minute, only for the former Sunderland striker to miss his kick.
And it was Atsu who came closest to finding the net during the 90 minutes which occasionally promised much but eventually delivered little. The Everton winger struck the post with a lovely dipping shot that had beaten Boubacar Barry completely, but didn’t quite have enough bend to take it into the corner of the net.
|The Heartbreaking Strike|
Asamoah Gyan missed his kick when well-placed, John Boye saw a header go just wide, and Jordan Ayew, off the bench to replace Cambridge United’s Kwesi Appiah, wasted a decent half chance for the Black Stars.
The Elephants, for their part, were once again content to sit back and let Ghana have the majority of possession, playing much of their best football on the break.
Gervinho was a menace from the start, running at defenders with the mix of skilful play and uncontrolled chaos that has become his speciality. The former Arsenal man, as is his way, rarely had much in the way of end product, but he was always a threat for the Ghanain defence.
He really should have scored in the second period of extra time, but took a poor touch when he was through on goal.
The one time that that Gervinho did pick the perfect pass the opportunity was spurned by Max Gradel, the winger who once plied his trade for Leeds. Following a dreadful mistake from Baba Rahman, Gradel was played in on goal, only to blast over from 15 yards.
It was the Ivorians’ best chance in a game noticeable more for the three red cards that didn’t happen than for anything that did. Asamoah Gyan was the first beneficiary, when he stamped on Eric Bailly off the ball, unspotted by referee Bakary Gassama. Gyan’s team-mate John Boye was equally lucky when he headbutted Eric Bailly in the second half, and Gassama again failed to notice.
A referee can only give what he sees, however, so both Ghanaian incidents, though wrong, can be understood. How the official contrived to let Serey Die stay on the pitch, however, is another matter.
There is no question he saw the kick to Wakaso Mubarak’s groin, which though not malicious was certainly painful for the Celtic man, and prompted a yellow card.
It was the closest we came to drama at Estadio de Bata until the shoot-out.
But as the remnants of the Ivorian ‘golden generation’ now know, waiting a long time for success makes it all the sweeter.
Meanwhile Check out Didier Drogba's reaction to the victory