Zambia stun favorites Ghana 1-0 to reach the final of the Africa Cup of Nations
Substitute Emmanuel Mayuka scores the only goal with 12 minutes remaining
Zambia will face Ivory Coast in Sunday's final after the Elephants beat Mali 1-0
Arsenal striker Gervinho's superb individual goal is enough to defeat co-hosts
Zambia will face pre-tournament favorites Ivory Coast in Sunday’s final of the Africa Cup of Nations after both countries won their semifinals 1-0 on Wednesday.
Substitute Emmanuel Mayuka scored the only goal 12 minutes from time as Zambia shocked another one of the title favorites, Ghana.
Meanwhile, a superb individual goal from Arsenal striker Gervinho proved enough for Ivory Coast to see off Mali in Gabon’s capital Libreville.
World Cup quarterfinalists Ghana, who lost to Egypt in the 2010 African final, squandered a host of chances, missed a penalty and had a player sent off in Bata, Equatorial Guinea.
And the Black Stars were made to pay for not taking advantage of their superiority when 20-year-old striker Mayuka fired home from outside the penalty area.
Four-times champions Ghana started the match strongly and should have taken an eighth minute lead when Davies Nkausu fouled Kwadwo Asamoah in the area.
But Asamoah Gyan wasted the resulting penalty when his poorly-struck spot-kick was pushed away by goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.
Soon afterwards, Gyan shot straight at Mweene after being put through by Andre Ayew, whose younger brother Jordan also fluffed a great chance to score.
Ghana continued to have the majority of the possession after the break, but Mayuka’s superb strike gave Zambia a lead they held onto.
Ghana’s woes were compounded by the dismissal of Derek Boateng with seven minutes left for a second bookable offense.
A contender for the goal of the competition from Arsenal striker Gervinho against Mali put Ivory Coast into the final for the first time since losing to Egypt in 2006.
Picking the ball up on the halfway line, Gervinho left a host of Mali players in his wake as he sprinted down the left wing before firing a shot past goalkeeper Soumaila Diakite into the far corner of the net.
Looking to avoid the same fate as Ghana earlier in the day, the Elephants nearly took a fifth-minute lead when Didier Drogba’s shot struck the crossbar.
And, just seven minutes later, African player of the year Yaya Toure also struck the bar after being set up by Drogba’s Chelsea clubmate Salomon Kalou.
Moustapha Yattabare had Mali’s best chance in the 72nd minute, but his attempt from the right narrowly whistled over the crossbar.