Ivory Coast took an early lead on a penalty kick, fell behind and then retook the lead in the second half only to fall to defending champs Liberia in extra time in the third Philadelphia International Unity Cup final on Saturday night at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester.
A foul just inside the box in the 4th minute set Ivory Coast up with a penalty kick Hasan Kone was able to put just under the bar, but Philadelphia Lone Star’s star striker Anthony Allison brought Liberia back and gave them the 2-1 lead heading into the locker room.
Liberia appeared to be headed toward victory through much of the second half against an Ivory Coast team missing several key players due to card accumulation, but with just over 10 minutes left the Ivory Coast offense that created its fair of chance but struggled to find the final ball in the run of play came alive, regaining the lead with two goals in an eight-minute span.
Koussi N’Guessan found the equalizer and Bill Walleekendeh put the 2016 Unity Cup champions ahead with only three minutes plus stoppage time remaining. But as the game was nearing stoppage time, Liberia found a late equalizer off a set piece when Eugene Dennis was able to fire home a rebound and send the game to overtime.
The teams played a scoreless first period of overtime, but the breakthrough came on a quick counter attack by Liberia in the fourth minute of the second overtime period when Mitchell Torh set up the eventual game-winner for Joe-Joe Jappah.
In the end, it was an entertaining end to another successful year for a competition that continues to boost the profile of soccer in Philadelphia and the many connections to so many parts of the world that the sport has made in the city and its surrounding areas.