Mali defeated Ghana 2-0 in the third place match at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations in the Estadio de Bata in Equatorial Guinea on Saturday. Forward Cheick Diabate scored both goals for the Eagles as defender Isaac Vorsah saw red for a second bookable offence as the Black Stars ended the match with 10 men.
The game started with vigour as both teams searched for an early hold on the encounter. Jordan Ayew, who started upfront for Ghana in place of Asamoah Gyan, had the first opportunity on 21 minutes, but his shot from the edge of the box was held by Oumar Sissoko.
The Malians took the lead two minutes later when Diabate scored from close range after Adam Kwarasey had spilled a resulting shot off a corner kick. It was the Bordeaux striker who reacted quickest ahead of Vorsah and Jonathan Mensah to put the ball past the goalkeeper.
The game then went into slumber as both teams could not secure the upper hand as tension began to soar. Jordan Ayew received a yellow card for his challenge on Samba Sow as the game seemed to turn into a brawl.
Mali missed an opportunity to double their lead when Samba Diakite’s shot was kept out by Kwarasey. Diakite had dispossessed two Ghanaian defenders before seeing his shot saved.
A few moments later, the younger Ayew brother once again tested Sissoko with a snap-shot, but his attempt was saved by the goalkeeper.
Vorsah earned his first yellow card for a challenge on Diabate before the end of the first period. The Ghanaians then rang in the changes as they searched for an equaliser. Prince Tagoe and Sulley Muntari came on for Samuel Inkoom and Mohammed Abu as the pace in attack quickened.
Muntari saw a goal disallowed for offside on 53 minutes before Vorsah got himself into trouble for a high boot and was sent off as a result of his second yellow card offence.
The Ghanaians fought back but attempts to run through the Malian defence by Andre Ayew were frustrated as the Eagles began to dominate the game.
Their dominance was rewarded on 80 minutes when full-back Adama Tamboura’s inch perfect cross from the left was tapped in by Diabate for the Eagles’ second goal.
With the victory, the Malians avenged their group stage loss to the Ghanaians as they secured their first Afcon medal since 1972, when they finished second.