Substitute Kwadwo Poku converted the decisive penalty as Ghana edged Senegal 7-6 in a shootout to qualify for the CAF African Nations Championship final. A thrilling semi-final between the West African countries finished 1-1 after extra time in the central Côte d'Ivoire city of Bouake as Yaw Antwi gave Ghana a first-half lead and Alpha Sow levelled.
With the sides level at 6-6 on penalties before a capacity 25,000 Peace Stadium crowd, Ghana goalkeeper Philemon MacCarthy saved from Vito Badiane before Poku scored to become an instant national hero. In the final on Sunday title favourites and joint top seeds Ghana will face DR Congo, who triumphed 2-1 over Zambia in the Ivorian economic capital Abidjan after surviving a late onslaught.
The battle between Ghana, boasting the hottest attack in a tournament for home-based footballers, and opponents who had not conceded a goal in three group matches, took a dramatic turn during the first half. Senegal surrendered their perfect defensive record on 31 minutes when Antwi scored his second goal in as many matches by striking from close range after Rahim Ayew broke free out wide and crossed.
But the Lions of Teranga took just four minutes to respond with Sow, scorer of the only goal Senegal managed in four qualifiers, equalising when a free kick deflected off the wall into his path. Ghana came closest to breaking the deadlock in regulation time when Harrison Afful temporarily abandoned his defensive duties and unleashed a drive that seemed bound for the net until Mamadou Ba produced a superb save.
Congolese stun Zambia
DR Congo quickly banished memories of a three-goal mauling by Ghana in a group match last Sunday as they stormed into a 2-0 lead over Zambia before a small crowd at Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in the other semi-final.
Goalkeeper Davy Kaumbwa was caught off guard in the second minute and allowed a speculative long-range shot from Congolese captain Bongeli Lofo to find the net. Lofo turned provider for the second goal scored by Dioko Kaluyituka on 16 minutes and although Zambia dominated the second half they could not reduce arrears until five minutes from full-time when Given Singuluma headed home.