|Egypt players celebrate as a team [AFP]|
Amr Zaki scored a pair of second-half goals as defending champion Egypt beat Ivory Coast 4-1 to make a shock return to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations.
Egypt were put in front by Ahmed Fathi in the 12th with a shot from the edge of the box that found it’s way through a sea of bodies before Zaki headed Ahmed Hassan’s cross to double the lead in the 62nd.
Abdulkader Keita pulled Ivory Coast within 2-1 with an individual effort in the 63rd, but Zaki restored the two-goal buffer with his second in the 67th before Mohamed Zidan set up Mohamed Aboutreika for Egypt’s finale in the 90th.
Egypt will try to add to its record five titles when it meets four-time champion Cameroon in Sunday’s final.
The Indomitable Lions beat Ghana 1-0 earlier in the other semifinal.
The game will be a rematch of their first-round encounter, when Egypt defeated Cameroon 4-2.
Ghana and Ivory Coast will play for third place Saturday.
The victory extended Egypt’s domination over Ivory Coast, which has not beaten the Pharaohs since 1990 in Algiers, and added to Elephants’ frustration from 2006, when Egypt prevailed on penalty kicks in the title match.
The West Africans and hot favourites advanced undefeated through the tournament, winning its four previous matches by a combined 13-1 score.
But it struggled on against their nemesis, managing few shots on target at Kumasi’s Baba Yara stadium.
Didier Drogba sent in a weak shot from five metres after a ninth minute solo effort.
Egypt goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary also grabbed the Chelsea striker’s shot after a 35th-minute scramble in the penalty area.
El-Hadary twice made acrobatic saves to stop Drogba headers in the 45th and 48th.
|Ivory Coast fans were deflated after the loss
Fathi’s goal bounced off Salomon Kalou, punishing the Ivorian defence for failing to completely clear the ball.
The Elephants were dealt a setback when goalkeeper Boubacar Barry had to leave the game in the 39th because of an apparent thigh injury and was replaced by Stephan Loboue.
Lobue’s first contribution was to deny Hosni Abd Rabou from 20 meters in the 44th.
But he couldn’t stop Aboutreika and Zaki for adding to the tally.
Arsenal defender Kolo Toure returned to the Ivorian lineup for the first time since suffering a groin injury in the group stages win over Benin on January 25.
Toure replaced Christian Koffi N’dri but appeared fatigued as the match progressed.
Captain Hassan took Mohamed Shawky’s place in the Egyptian midfield.