Mali beat Ghana to finish third

Monday February 13 2012

By Agencies

Mali finished third at an Africa Cup of Nations for the first time after beating Ghana 2-0 in Malabo. Forward Cheick Tidiane Diabate struck twice to join the list of tournament top scorers with three goals.

The game turned when Ghanaian defender Isaac Vorsah was sent off for a second yellow card after 64 minutes.

Coach Alain Giresse danced on the pitch at the final whistle with his delighted players as the Eagles recorded their best Nations Cup result since 1972. Forty years ago, they reached the final on their maiden appearance at the tournament, only to lose to eventual champions Congo.

Mali’s victory in the Equatorial guinean capital atoned for their 2-0 defeat at the hands of the Black Stars in the group stages, with Diabate saying afterwards that the players were keen to avenge defeat.

Ghana coach Goran Stevanovic did not seem to share such a desire for victory as he started the game without a striker, choosing to play brothers Andre and Jordan Ayew up front in an experimental system.

The Serb abandoned his scheme ten minutes before the break, as he brought on Prince Tagoe for Samuel Inkoom but by then some of the damage had already been done.
After a couple of long-range efforts from Ghana and the slightest half-chance for Mali, the Eagles opened the scoring midway through the first period as Diabate stabbed home from close range.

A corner routine found its way to Samba Diakite whose low strike from the edge of a crowded penalty was spilled by Black Stars keeper Adam Kwarasey, leaving the Bordeaux striker with the easiest of chances.