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Hosts Cameroon Fight back to Win Third Place in Shootouts

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Hosts Cameroon secured third place at the Africa Cup of Nations on home soil after they beat Burkina Faso 5-3 on penalties following a dramatic 3-3 draw at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium last night.

Toni Conceicao’s side battled back from three goals down to clinch an unlikely victory in the end. The Stallions were two goals up at the interval thanks to Steeve Yago’s 24th-minute opener and an own-goal from Andre Onana.

Djibril Ouattara added a third four minutes into the second to seemingly put the result beyond doubt.

However, Stephane Bahoken reduced the deficit on 72 minutes before two howlers from Farid Ouedraogo was capitalised on by Vincent Aboubakar to level matters.

After a cagey opening in Yaounde, Burkina Faso got their passing game going and looked comfortable on the ball.

Kabore was finding some joy down the right flank and he delivered a pin-point cross for Abdoul Tapsoba at the back post on nine minutes, but the Standard Liege forward couldn’t direct his header on target.

Tapsoba then tried his luck from distance two minutes later after cutting inside from the left flank, although his scuffed effort was easily saved by Onana.

The Indomitable Lions had a half chance in the 16th minute when Ambroise Oyongo delivered a free-kick from the left which cleared the first line and struck Harold Moukoudi on the body before trickling through to the keeper.

Their first-clear-cut opportunity arrived just two minutes later as Jean Onana’s first-time strike was parried away by Ouedraogo, who had pushed Oyongo’s cross from the left straight into the Bordeaux midfielder’s path.

Onana threatened again on 22 minutes with a looping header that landed on the roof of the net from another Oyongo cross.

However, the partizan home crowd were stunned into silence moments later when the Stallions broke the deadlock. Kabore sent a cross over to the back post for an unmarked Yago to steer into the roof of the net for a fine finish.

Cameroon ramped up the pressure in the closing stages of the first half as they looked to get back into the contest, but would find themselves 2-0 down just before the break.

Kabore showed good pace and determination to beat his man on the right before crossing to the near post from the byline and Onana somehow turned the ball into the back of his net after it squirmed out of his grasp.

It was 3-0 just four minutes after the restart as Ouattara guided a header inside the near post from Bertrand Traore’s inviting cross into the box from the right.

Cameroon looked to respond and Gustavo Sangare fizzed an effort over the crossbar from 20 yards out before Jerome Onguene drilled a shot just wide of the right post, while Aboubakar directed a header high over the target from a corner on the left.

The host nation were piling on the pressure now as Moukoudi headed a free-kick well over the goal on 64 minutes and Onana saw his long-range strike deflected just over the bar off Edmond Tapsoba seven minutes later.

Their efforts paid off from the resulting corner when Bahoken finished on the volley after Karl Toko Ekambi’s initial shot was saved by Ouedraogo.

Burkina Faso’s goal was coming under siege as Ouedraogo had to tip Toko Ekambi’s swerving strike over the bar in the 74th minute and he pulled off a fine reaction save to deny Bahoken 10 minutes later.

However, there was pandemonium in the stands when the Indomitable Lions scored twice in the space of two minutes late on to restore parity and force a penalty shootout.

Ouedraogo was at fault for both goals as he misjudged an 85th-minute corner which allowed Aboubakar to head home into an open net at the back post before the USFA keeper spilled a long ball into the box two minutes later after colliding with Soumaïla Ouattara and the Cameroon skipper accepted the gift to slot home.

The hosts converted all their spot-kick to win 5-3 after Blati Toure’s attempt from 12 yards out was saved by Onana to atone for his earlier mistake.

Culled from THISDAY

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