Burkina Faso stun Ghana on penalties to reach final of Africa Cup of Nations
Burkina Faso 1 Ghana 1 (aet; Burkina Faso win 3-2 on penalties)
Burkina Faso beat Ghana on penalties to reach its first African Cup of Nations final in a stunning upset - coming from behind to draw 1-1 after 120 minutes and then sending the four-time champions crashing out 3-2 in the shootout.
Three Ghanaians missed their spot kicks, with Burkina Faso goalkeeper Daouda Diakite pulling off the decisive save from Emmanuel Agyemang Badu to send the underdogs through to Sunday's final against Nigeria at Soccer City.
The Burkinabes didn't even need to take their last kick as Ghana's players failed dramatically at the end, having led the second semifinal at Mbombela Stadium through Wakaso Mubarak's 13th-minute penalty.
But playing in just its second ever semifinal and first in 15 years, Burkina Faso dragged itself back into the game with Aristide Bance's equalizer in the 60th and then unleashed a succession of attacks against the fading Ghanaians in extra time.
Bance went close a number of times, while Burkina Faso also had a goal disallowed and was denied what appeared to be a penalty when Jonathan Pitroipa went down in the area in the 117th minute.
Instead of a spot kick, Pitroipa was shown a second yellow card for diving and sent off. But Burkina Faso still emerged victorious from the shootout to howls of approval from the crowd in Nelspruit, which had adopted the team after it played its entire tournament here leading up to the final.
While Burkina Faso celebrated its biggest footballing achievement, Ghana again missed out painfully at the Cup of Nations. It last won the title in 1982 and made the last four in the last four tournaments, only to fail in the late stages.
Defender Isaac Vorsah screwed the first penalty badly wide and Emmanuel Clottey also saw his penalty go past the left post for Ghana, before Agyemang Badu's decisive and devastating miss.
Much earlier, Wakaso swept in his third goal from the spot at this tournament, but Bance pounced on a defensive error from the Ghanaians to claim a popular equalizer at Mbombela.
Bance also had a powerful header saved on the line in the 53rd and Asamoah Gyan hit the post for Ghana five minutes later — and two minutes before Burkina Faso struck back.
The outstanding Bance should have won it for Burkina Faso in the 102nd minute as he beat two defenders and carved open a chance for himself, only to send his shot over the crossbar.
And Burkina Faso had a goal ruled out contentiously in the 105th — right on halftime in extra time — when Prejuce Nakoulma was adjudged to have fouled a defender before poking the ball over Fatawu Dauda and into the net.
Coach Paul Put was furious with Tunisian referee Slim Jdidi's decision, and even angrier after Pitroipa's red card.
Bance missed two more chances before another effort was stopped on the line in the second half of extra time by defender Harrison Afful, who crouched to use his knees to somehow deflect a goalbound volley up and over the bar and to safety.
Gyana also missed with a header in the 119th and soon after Pitroipa was red-carded in a pulsating and nerve-racking semifinal, which still had time for Bance to see a shot deflected away in the final seconds and final act of open play.
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