An 80th minute strike from Emmanuel Mayuka was enough for Zambia to oust trophy favourites Ghana in their semi-final at the Bata Stadium, setting up a final showdown with Ivory Coast, who also won their semi against Mali 1-0.

Ghana looked sluggish early after their extra-time exertions against Tunisia in the quarter-final, but it did not take them long to get on top and earn a penalty when Kwadwo Asamoah was taken down by Davies Nkausu in the seventh minute.

But Zambia goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene produced a diving save to deny Asamoah Gyan's unconvincing effort and keep the game scoreless.

Zambia were happy to sit back and counterattack, and the tactic should have worked when James Chamanga played Christopher Katongo through on goal, only for the captain to miss the target.

More chances fell to Ghana in the second half, with Jordan Ayew, John Boye and Gyan all denied by Mweene.

And Ghana were made to pay for their wastefulness when Zambia took the lead in the 80th minute thanks to a wonderful curled effort from substitute Mayuka.

The opener set off a frenetic final 10 minutes in which Goran Stevanovic’s men pushed for an equaliser, but their chances were doused when Derek Boateng was sent off.

Zambia held on to reach their first Africa Cup of Nations final since 1994, and will face Ivory Coast, who were never really threatened in their 1-0 win over Mali.

A first-half goal from Arsenal star Gervinho was enough to decide the match in favour of the Ivorians, who could have had more goals if it were not for some sloppy finishing.

The early exchanges were marred by aggressive play and fouls from both sets of players, setting the tone for what would be a rough and physical encounter.

Ivory Coast had a great chance to take the lead on five minutes as a cross from the right wing found the head of captain Didier Drogba, but his glancing effort bounced up and onto the post, saving the Malians some early blushes.

Ivory Coast continued to pile on the pressure and in the 16th minute African Player of the Year Yaya Toure found space in the box and cracked a bullet at goal, but the ball hit the woodwork once again.

After a half of frustration, Ivory Coast were eventually rewarded for their dominance when Gervinho broke away down the left-hand side.

The Arsenal man surged unchallenged into the box and placed a neat finish around Soumbeyla Diakite to put Ivory Coast in front.

They had several good chances to extend their lead after the break, but with Mali failing to threaten at the other end, Ivory Coast's victory never really looked in doubt.