Yaya Toure finally leads Ivory Coast to Africa Cup of Nations triumph

Captain Yaya Toure and teammates in joyous mood (©GettyImages)

Ivory Coast lifted the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations trophy late last night after edging out Ghana 9-8 in a prolonged penalty shoot-outs, with all twenty-two players taking part in the dramatic finale.

The conclusion left the Ghanaians wailing in agony, with Ivory Coast boss Herve Renard captured consoling the tearful Andre Ayew, the son of Abedi Ayew "Pele".

Ghana and Everton loanee Christian Atsu, who picked up the best player of the tournament award, came close in the first half as his left-footed powerful drive hit the Ivory Coast post and moments later Marseille winger Andre Ayew also saw his effort struck the Ivory Coast woodworks.

Tight match always looked destined for penalties

The best chance of the game probably fell to Ivory Coast winger Max Alain Gradel who was played through by Wilfried Bony but the St.Etienne man fired wide though he was impeded by a Ghanaian defender.

Every single minute of the nerve-racking final was crucial and produced several interesting moments, but it was the midfield battle between the master midfielder Yaya Toure and young Ghanaian anchorman Afriyie Acquah that lit up the showdown.

Toure outshone in normal time

Acquah, who in the course of the tournament-on deadline day-signed for Sampdoria on loan from Hoffeiheim after ending his loan stay at Parma, was the dominant figure in the concentrated midfield and succeeded in winning most of the head to head battles with the midfield authorithy Yaya who in this tournament has been more of a deep-lying playmaker.

Acquah's hardwork and spirited performance on the day was short-lived as he saw his kick in the penalty shoot-outs saved but his effort did not go unrecognised as he picked the Man of the match ward in the historic final.

After extra-time the game was still goalless and Ivory Coast goalkeeper Boubacar Copa Barry was the hero, after saving two Ghana kicks and scoring the winning kick to land the West African country their only second continental glory since 1992.

Crazy penalty shootout

Ghana converted its first two kicks, while Ivory Coast missed the first two with Manchester City newly acquired forward, Wilfried Bony striking the crossbar with his kick and substitute Gadji Tallo kicking off-target to give Avram Grant's Ghana a two-lead advantage.

Ivory Coast goalkeeper Barry, who was playing his first game of the tournament because first choice Sylvain Alain Gbohou picked a late injury to be ruled out of the finals, gave Renard and his team a lifeline as he saved Ghana's third kick taken by big performer Acquah.

Wakaso Mubarak, Jordan Ayew, Andre Ayew,  Agyemang Badu all converted their kicks for Ghana and for Ivory Coast Serge Aurier, Yaya Toure, Kolo Toure, Salomon Kalou scored during their turns.

The success of Renard with the Ivory Coast means that the Frenchman has become the first ever man to win the Africa cup of Nations with two separate countries after winning the 2012 title with Zambia.

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