The Ivory Coast have made it to the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations final after dispatching Mali 1-0 in the semifinal. Prior to the match, the Elephants' record for the tournament read four wins from four with eight goals scored and none conceded, so it was no surprise that they came out with all guns blazing against Mali. In the first quarter of an hour, they'd managed to hit the woodwork twice via captain Didier Drogba and Manchester City star Yaya Toure, and although there was the odd moment of defensive chaos Mali were barely in the game.
Of course, a similar scenario played out in the Zambia-Ghana semifinal, where the Black Stars were eliminated after dominating the match but wasting their chances. The Ivory Coast needed a goal to ease their nerves, and they got one from an unlikely source when Gervinho ran half the length of the pitch and fired past Soumaila Diakite in emphatic style. It was the first goal for the Arsenal man all tournament, and possibly the first shot he's played that didn't make him look like a rank amateur.
Mali could have made things really interesting by pushing hard for the equaliser in the second half, but they were never really good enough to break down an organised Elephants defence, and the game turned into a rather stop-start affair. The best chances were falling to the Ivory Coast on the break, and Diakite had to be on his toes to push a near Salomon Kalou shot over in the 64th minute, but just keeping things at 1-0 wasn't enough. Mali needed a goal. They didn't get it, and the Elephants will face Zambia in the final with every expectation of raising the trophy.