Goals from Franck Kessié and Sebastian Haller helped hosts Ivory Coast beat Nigeria 2-1 to claim their third-ever Africa Cup of Nations trophy on Sunday.
Nigeria took a first-half lead through captain, William Troost-Ekong’s powerful header after the Ivorians failed to deal with a corner.
They were, however, pegged back in the second half as an unmarked Kessié headed home a leveler in the 62nd minute from Simon Adingra’s corner.
With the match seemingly heading towards extra time, Haller diverted a cross by Adingra past goalkeeper, Stanley Nwabali in the 81st minute to give the ecstatic hosts the lead.
Nigeria could not find a second, even with seven minutes added on at the end of the 90, with the referee’s final whistle confirming the Ivorians’ second AFCON title in a decade, following their win in 2015.
It is also the first time a host nation has won the tournament since Egypt did so in 2006.
Celebrations broke out across the pitch and in the stands after the full-time whistle as the hosts capped off their extraordinary run in this year’s AFCON.
The Ivorians scraped through the group stages, only qualifying as one of the four best third-place teams at the tournament.
Jean-Louis Gasset was sacked after they lost 4-0 to Equatorial Guinea in their final group game, with Emerse Faé elevated to the role of interim head coach in his place once their place in the last 16 was confirmed.
An unexpected win over holders, Senegal was followed by a come-from-behind victory against Mali in the quarters and a nervy 1-0 win over DR Congo in the semis.
Victory in the final was deserved as the rejuvenated Elephants dominated, showing their resilience once more to come from behind against the Super Eagles.
There was disappointment, however, for Nigeria who went into the final with the tournament’s best defensive record and a frontline led by CAF Player of the Year, Victor Osimhen.
Despite this, Nigeria were largely outplayed by their opponents and, aside from Troost-Ekong’s header, barely caused Fofana in the Ivorian goal any issues.
The loss means the Super Eagles’ wait for a fourth AFCON triumph continues, with their most recent success coming in 2013.