BATA, Equatorial Guinea (Reuters) - Goals from Yaya Toure and Gervinho helped steer Ivory Coast into the African Nations Cup final in a 3-1 win over Democratic Republic of Congo in the Estadio de Bata on Wednesday.
Toure, playing at a sixth finals, blasted home a missile-like shot after 21 minutes to give the Ivorians the lead but a handball allowed Dieumerci Mbokani to equalise from the penalty spot three minutes later.
Gervinho had an effort cleared off the line in the 40th minute but the Ivorians won back the ball and caught the Congolese defence cold with Wilfried Bony setting up Gervinho to sweep home less than a minute later.
Defender Wilfried Kanon added a third midway through the second half with a rebound from a corner.
Ivory Coast will play in Sunday’s final in Bata against Equatorial Guinea or Ghana who meet in the second semi-final in Malabo on Thursday.
They overpowered their opponents, although coach Herve Renard said he had not been pleased with some of their sloppy play.
”I had to keep reminding them we were playing in a semi-final with a goal of getting to the final,” he said.
Toure showed the way in one of his better performances for the national team with a stunning shot on the half volley from the edge of the box that was hit with ferocious power for the opening goal.Bony had been trying to weave his way through the defence but lost the ball which spilt in the direction of Gervinho but before he could get a foot on it, Toure came surging through to almost burst the net with sublime precision.
A careless handball from Eric Bertrand Bailly offered the Congolese the chance for an immediate response from the penalty spot, which Mbokani duly dispatched.
Then came Gervinho’s header that hit the crossbar before Gabriel Zakuani cleared it while the Ivorians appealed that it had crossed the line.
They regained their composure while DR Congo were caught ball watching and Bony’s pass left Gervinho with little else to do but guide his effort home.
Yannick Bolasie continued to offer a glimmer of hope for the Congolese with his mazy runs, having a 55th-minute effort saved.
But it was Gervinho, Bony and Toure who dictated terms in the second half and a third goal seemed inevitable.
“This is one step in our life, we need to enjoy this night and be ready for the game on Sunday. It was tough game, DR Congo were very fast but we were compact. All we care now is about bringing the cup back home,” said Bony.Ivory Coast have now reached two of the last three Nations Cup finals but their only previous success was in 1992.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Justin Palmer and Toby Davis