AFCON 2015: Ghana lose final on penalties to Ivory Coast

Published on: 08 February 2015
AFCON 2015: Ghana lose final on penalties to Ivory Coast
Kwesi Appiah of Ghana during the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations final football match between Ivory Coast and Ghana at the Bata Stadium in Bata, Equatorial Guinea on 8 February 2015 ©Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix

Cote d’Ivoire were crowned the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations champions after beating Ghana 9-8 on penalties after both teams had played out a drab goalless draw in regulation time.

Goalkeeper Boubacar Barry took the winning penalty after his opposite number Razak Braimah had missed his in a repeat of the shootout agony suffered by Ghana in the 1992 finals.

The Black Stars struggled in the opening ten minutes of the game as the Ivorians camped them in their half and kept pummeling in search of a flying start.

Gervinho made a surge from around the within in just the second minute but John Boye was on hand to snuff out the attack by laying a simple back pass for hos goalkeeper to clear.

The AS Roma was clearly the livewire of the Ivorians as he went on another surging run moments later to win the game’s first corner kick.

Ghana remained unsettled – often playing too many misplaced passes.

Saka Tiene then won a free kick in a promising area for Cote d’Ivoire on the edge of the Ghana penalty area.

But Yaya Toure’s resultant kick didn’t trouble Razak Braimah in the Ghana post.

Serey Die was the first to be booked for a high boot into the abdomen of Mubarak Wakaso in the 14th minute.

Baba Rahman miscued pass at the back was almost punished in the 17th minute when Wilfried Bony latched on the loose ball.

The Manchester City man fed Max Gradel on the far side of the penalty area but his shot went disappointingly wide.

Ghana is gradually beginning to find its feet in the game after braving the early Ivorian attacking onslaught.

A ball over the top found Christian Atsu in space but his attempt to bring it down with his chest was rudely intercepted by Saka Tiene.

The on loan Chelsea player at Everton could count himself unlucky when his sublime curling shot came off the post in the 25th minute with goalkeeper Boubacar Barry completely beaten.

Serey Die was lucky to have escaped a second booking after fouling Christian Atsu on the counter attack a minute later.

Ghana was now beginning to have a big say in the game as Baba Rahman passed into Andre Ayew on the edge of the Ivorian penalty box but the Olympique Marseille man’s attempt to square for the waiting Asamoah Gyan only ended up in the side net with nine minutes of the half left to play.

The Black Stars won a promising free kick but Mubarak Wakaso’s resultant take ended up in the arms of Barry.

Barry who is only making his first start of the competition in the finals due to the injury to regular Sylvain Gbohouo miscued a back pass but Kwesi Appiah failed to take full advantage in the last piece of meaningful action of the half in the 41st minutes.

Ghana started the second half the more purposeful side but were struggling to fashion out clear cut opportunities.

Andre Ayew fouled Yaya Toure in a harmless position in the 53rd minute. The Ghana defence repelled the attacking opportunity to mount an attack of their own.

Harrison Afful’s ball over the top found the lively Christian Atsu who cut in to feed Asamoah Gyan.

But the Ghana captain was unable to get the ball out of his feet quickly to have a clean strike at goal.

Saka Tiene drew the second booking of the game by tagging the shorts of Christian Atsu who had pulled off on a run after intelligently intercepting a pass in the 56th minute.

Tiene, on a mission to atone for his slackness at the back moments later supplied a threatening cross in behind the Ghana defence but John Boye cleared into touch to concede a corner.

The game was beginning to open up with some players expectedly tiring off.

Harrison Afful on one of his overlapping surging runs in the 64th minute drove a delightful cross which missed Gyan at the near post but Serge Aurier was taking no chances at the far post to play safety first to concede a corner.

Herve Renard had seen enough of Max Gradel who had been astonishingly ineffective up until the 67th minute and rightly replaced him with Seydou Doumbia.

Mubarak Wakaso let one of his trademark shots from deep fly in the 69th minute but it was always rising.

The Celtic man was not deterred by his missed strike and let another fly once more again two minutes later. But just like his first, it went way wide.

Christian Atsu then provided the deadliest ball of the game after beating Tiene to feed Asamoah Gyan.

The Al Ain ace’s final connection was vitally intercepted out to end the promising attack.

Backtracking Kwesi Appiah then fouled Yaya Toure just five yards outside the Ghana penalty area to develop a legitimate goalscoring chance for Cote d’Ivoire in the 74th minute.

Saka Tiene took the kick but goalkeeper Razak Braimah rushed out to punch clear.

Ghana was presented with a glorious chance to win it with barely three minute left to play after Afriyie Acquah was fouled on the edge of the Ivorian box after a neat one-two with Asamoah Gyan.

Mubarak Wakaso’s intended curler went into touch for s suspected corner kick but the referee gave the decision the other way.

The Black Stars now appeared the more resilient side as the game looked certain to finish goalless in regulation time as extra time loomed.

Ivory Coast rather got the golden chance to win the game after Serge Aurier did well to beat Andre Ayew and send in a cross which created confusion in the Ghana penalty area.

The Ghana defence somehow got the ball clear with the game eventually ending barren in regulation time after four minutes of added on time was exhausted.

The first half of extra time started not surprisingly on a slow pace with the first chance falling to Christian Atsu in the 92nd minute.

He chested a ball over the top and took a quick volley but his positioning was bad to worry Barry in post.

Ghana coach Avram Grant was banking on his team’s superiority in youth to outrun the Ivorians in extra time and it almost paid off four minute into extra time.

Baba Abdul Rahman burst forward beating his marker with lightening pace but his cross was charged down for a corner.

Mubarak Wakaso’s delivery off the corner was however disappointing.

Christian Atsu played in Asamoah Gyan clean on goal two minutes later but the Black Stars captain has been flagged offside.

The obviously tired Kwesi Appiah was the replaced by Jordan Ayew in the 99th minute.

Harrison Afful who probably has been the best player on the field almost committed a grievous mistake with his back pass to goalkeeper Razak Braimah lacking the pace.

Wilfried Bony threatened to pounce with one minute to end the half but Braimah was quickest to the ball.

Ghana started the second half of extra time the brightest and should have scored from the start.

Mubarak Wakaso played in Asamoah Gyan whose shot was blocked after sorting out his feet.

The loose ball fell to Wakaso who also fired and was also blocked for a corner.

Ivory Coast responded by creating one of their own – Yaya Toure released Gervinho who cut the ball back nicely for Seydou Doumbia having beat Afful in a one-on-one situation.

The new AS Roma man’s attempt to spin around John Boye gave Razak Braimah enough time to come and gather.

Wilfried Bony won a good header in the 111th minute which played in Gervinho clean on goal but his first touch was too heavy as the on-rushing Braimah picked up.

Saka Tiene was then withdrawn and replaced by Salomon Kalou as Christian Atsu also made way for Frank Acheeampong for the remaining five minutes.

Avram Grant then made a surprising move by pulling off Asamoah Gyan for Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu with penalty shoot-outs looming.

And indeed both teams headed for the lottery of the shootout as the referee ended proceedings with the scores still barren.

Mubarak Wakaso started the shootout for Ghana and was successful – beating goalkeeper Boubacar Barry who went the other way.

Wilfried Bony missed his for Ivory Coast, crashing his kick against the cross bar.

Jordan Ayew stepped as the second taker for Ghana and slotted coolly.

Junior Tallo also missed his kick to give Ghana a firm advantage as Afriyie Acquah walked over to take his.

Acquah’s kick was saved by Barry to keep the Ivorians still in it. Serge Aurier scored to keep up the pressure on Ghana.

Youngster Frank Acheampong missed his as well to give Cote d’Ivoire a grand opportunity to even the scores and Seydou Doumbia made no mistakes by scoring.

Andre Ayew took the pressure of the Black Stars by tucking his away nicely – swinging the pendulum of pressure onto Yaya Toure. The Manchester City man scored with aplomb to take the shootouts into sudden death.

Jonathan Mensah stepped up and scored while Salomon Kalou also scored for Cote d’Ivoire.

Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu also scored for Ghana but just as Barry got some fingertips on it.

The shootout continued with Kolo Toure also converting his kick while Harrison Afful also scored.

Wilfried Konan tucked his away – shifting the pressure onto the young shoulders of Baba Abdul Rahman who took his also very well.

Eric Bailly converted his as did John Boye.

No winner was still in sight as Serey Die scored his to bring it down to the battle of the goalkeepers.

Razak Braimah missed his setting up a win for Ivory Coast but not without drama.

Boubacar Barry who was supposed to take his called out for treatment on an injury before going over to score and clinch it for Ivory Coast.

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