Ghana vs. Côte d'Ivoire  4 - 2

Article

Record African Nations Cup goal haul as Ghana finish third

9 February 2008 20:44

KUMASI, Ghana (AFP) - The goals continued to flow at the 2008 African Nations Cup Saturday with a record created as hosts Ghana beat Ivory Coast 4-2 in the third place play-off.

A first-half equaliser by Ivorian striker Boubacar Sanogo was the 94th goal of the 2008 tournament - one more than the previous best set in Burkina Faso 10 years ago.

There have been 70 goals in the group phase of the African football showcase this year, 16 in the quarter-finals, six in the semi-finals and six in the play-off for a total of 98.

And with the final between defending champions Egypt and Cameroon to come Sunday in Accra, more goals seem certain as the contenders have struck 14 each in five matches.

Sulley Muntari, Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, Junior Agogo and Haminu Draman scored as Ghana finished third for the first time while Sanogo was on target twice in the opening half to give Ivory Coast a 2-1 lead at the break.

Ghana coach Claude Le Roy said: "My players were fantastic. The Ivory Coast weren't able to kill the game despite their 2-1 lead at half time.

"Today I have to say a big thank you to my team and to the Ghana Football Association for all their support and backing."

Le Roy made two changes from the team beaten by Cameroon in the semi-finals Thursday, depriving them of a chance to become the third consecutive hosts after Tunisia and Egypt to win the biennial tournament.

Captain John Mensah returned to the defence after serving a one-game ban and Baffour Gyan was brought into attack with Andrew Ayew and Owusu-Abeyie dropped.

Ivory Coast coach Gerard Gili was more radical, making six alterations to the starting line-up from the heavy loss to Egypt with English Premiership trio Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Eboue and Abdoulaye Meite among those omitted.

Chelsea striker Salomon Kalou should have given the Ivorian 'Elephants' an early lead, but fluffed two chances before passing to Sanogo who failed to find the net from an acute angle.

Ghana, appearing in the play-off for only the second time, took a 10th-minute lead thanks to a rocket from another Premiership player on parade, Portsmouth midfielder Muntari.

He unleashed a left-foot free kick from outside the penalty area that flew past a crowded goalmouth and through the hands of Tiasse Kone, the only local in the Ivorian squad.

Sanogo, who plays for German Bundesliga club Werder Bremen, levelled after 24 minutes by sprinting on to a through ball, holding off the giant Mensah, and placing the ball wide of goalkeeper Richard Kingson.

Eric Addo had a close-range header well held by Kone and Kingson denied Kalou and captain Didier Drogba before Ivory Coast took the lead on 32 minutes at Baba Yara Stadium in the central city.

Overworked Kingson blocked a close-range Drogba effort, but the rebound rolled kindly for Sanogo, whose tap trickled over the line to complete the first half scoring.

However, Ivory Coast came tantalisingly close to a third goal as Drogba carved another large gap in the 'Black Stars' defence and passed to Sanogo, whose shot beat Kingson only to come back off the crossbar.

A tame second half came to life after 70 minutes when substitute Owusu-Abeyie left several Ivorians trailing as he turned on the pace before firing under Kone to restore equality in the clash of west African giants.

Agogo scored his third goal of the Nations Cup on 80 mintues to edge the 'Black Stars' ahead, springing an offside trap to burst through and give Kone no chance.

There was no stopping Ghana in the closing stages and Draman added a fourth five minutes from full-time with a shot from outside the penalty area that took a sudden bounce that left Kone embarrassed as the ball flew over him.