Sebastien Haller
Sebastien Haller proved to be the match-winner for Ivory Coast in the AFCON final against Nigeria. Luc Gnago/Reuters

Ivory Coast picked up its third Africa Cup of Nations title on Sunday evening as the side came from behind at half-time to beat Nigeria 2-1 on home soil.

The Elephants' win in Abidjan means they become the first nation to win an AFCON title as the hosts since Egypt in the 2006 edition.

Sebastien Haller was the match-winner for Ivory Coast with his 81st-minute effort sending the home crowd into jubilant celebrations.

For Haller, this moment arrives just 19 months after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer and had to undergo treatment to battle the tumour. The striker returned to full-time training and competitive action with his club, Borussia Dortmund, in January 2023.

Haller secured Ivory Coast's passage into the final as he scored the only goal in a semi-final win over DR Congo. Nigeria were able to advance to the final after overcoming South Africa on penalties in the last four.

The two teams met earlier in the tournament, with Nigeria winning the Group A contest, 1-0.

In Sunday's final, the Super Eagles were on the back foot for most of the first half, with Max-Alain Gradel and Simon Adingra having chances to put Ivory Coast in front but both were unable to convert.

The deadlock was broken by Nigeria seven minutes before the break as Ademola Lookman's corner deflected off the head of opposition midfielder, Jean Michael-Seri, right before William Troost-Ekong was able to rise higher than Serge Aurier and headed in the opener.

The hosts looked to respond in the second period and went close to levelling within minutes as Gradel's back post effort was blocked just in front of the goal line by Calvin Bassey. Then just past the hour mark, Odilon Kossounou had a long-range strike get pushed out by Stanley Nwabali for a corner.

From the resulting corner taken by Adingra, Franck Kessie was left unmarked at the far post and subsequently levelled the contest with a header.

Both sides then had opportunities to get a second goal as Troost-Ekong headed a chance from a free-kick over the crossbar before Haller misplaced an ambitious bicycle kick wide of the target.

Haller was not to be denied any longer as he met Adingra's cross at the near post with the top of his right boot to put his nation ahead with under 10 minutes of normal time remaining.

Nigeria were unable to find an equaliser and force extra-time as Ivory Coast saw out the final moments of the match. The victory for the Elephants comes nine years after the side last won AFCON.

Ivory Coast's success at this most recent edition of AFCON looked unlikely after the turbulent start the team had at the tournament. The side lost two out of its three group-stage games, leading to the dismissal of manager, Jean-Louis Gasset, just before the knockout rounds began and assistant coach, Emerse Fae, was placed in interim charge.

The victory is a special one for Fae as he represented Ivory Coast during his playing career but was never able to win AFCON. The closest the former midfielder came to doing so was when Ivory Coast finished runner-up to Egypt in 2006.

A third title for Ivory Coast puts the country level with Nigeria on the number of AFCON wins and means they have won the tournament twice since the Super Eagles last won it in 2013.

Adingra, who provided both assists for the winners in the final, was handed the Best Young Player award for the tournament whilst Nigeria's losing skipper, Troost-Ekong, was awarded Best Player.

Equatorial Guinea's Emilio Nsue won the Golden Boot, after netting five goals in the tournament and Ronwen Williams was voted the best goalkeeper after his impressive displays with semi-finalists, South Africa.

Ivory Coast's defence of their AFCON win is not too far away, as the next edition of the competition takes place in the summer of 2025.

The tournament will be held in Morocco as previously selected hosts, Guinea, were removed due to its infrastructure and facilities not being ready for hosting duties by next year.