Cote d’Ivoire needed a penalty shootout to defeat Ghana 3-2 after a 2-2 draw in regular time of the Total U-23 Africa Cup of Nations semifinal at the Cairo International Stadium on Tuesday evening, to secure their place in Friday’s final and grab the first automatic ticket in next year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
After a 2-2 draw in regular time, the extra time witnessed no more goals as the game was decided by penalties that saw Ivoirian goalkeeper Eliezer Tape saving three of Ghana’s kicks to send his side to next year’s Olympics for the second time in their history.
Youssouf Dao took the lead for the Ivoirians after 13 minutes, linking well to Hamid Traore’s pass that sent him in a clear scoring position. A lead that lasted till halftime.
Six minutes after the break, Yaw Yeboah restored parity for the Black Meteors. Samuel Obieng sent a cross that found Yeboah whose shot was too strong for the Ivoirian keeper to stop.
Dao thought he has won the game for Cote d’Ivoire when he completed his brace six minutes from time with a diving header from Silas Gnaka’s cross.
But deep into the injury time, Evans Mensah received Owusu Kwabena’s cross to score from close range and send the game to the extra time. No side could add to their tally as the game headed to penalties.
In the shootout, Eliezer Tape was the hero for the Ivoirians, stopping three spot kicks as Les Elephants prevailed 3-2 to reach the final and next year’s Olympics in the process. Ghana will have a second chance when they play in the third place playoffs on Friday.