MATCH CENTRE

SUN 15 JUNE 2014, 03:00, ARENA PERNAMBUCO

2
VS
1

Cote d’Ivoire off to winning start

by Graeme Jackson

Sun June 15, 04:57

Goals from Wilfried Bony and Gervinho saw Cote d’Ivoire defeat Japan 2-1 in their opening 2014 FIFA World Cup Group C match at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife.

The Elephants had to come from behind to claim the victory, with the Samurai Blue having opened the scoring early on through Keisuke Honda.

The West Africans came into the match with two major injury doubts: Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure.

While the latter was declared fit to start and took his place in the XI, the former remained on the bench, though his second-half appearance served as inspiration for the Elephants’ turnaround.



Cote d’Ivoire settled well and created the first scoring chance in the sixth minute, with Gervinho feeding Wilfried Bony, whose shot was well blocked by Masato Morishige.

However, Japan gradually found their footing in the game and opened the scoring in the 16th minute through Keisuke Honda.

The goal arrived from a simple move from a throw-in, with Honda slipping away from Yaya Toure on the edge of the box before driving a left-footed shot into the top corner.

Five minutes later the Elephants almost conceded a second, with Japan right-back Atsuto Uchida cutting inside and shooting on target only to see his effort beaten away by Boubacar Barry.

The African side struggled to create clear chances in the remainder of the first half, with their best effort a shot direct from a free kick by Arthur Boka that flashed just over the crossbar on the half hour mark.

Salomon Kalou and Bony were both guilty of errant shooting when given sights of goal, while Gervinho was lively and full of running but unable to slip away from the attention of the Japanese defenders.

Early in the second half Bony should have made it 1-1 when a deflected Kalou shot fell to him, but he directed his header wide of the target from close range.

Elephants coach Sabri Lamouchi called upon Didier Drogba just past the hour mark, bringing the striker off the bench to replace Serey Die.

Drogba’s presence seemed to galvanise Cote d’Ivoire, who drew level on 64 minutes when Bony expertly glanced home an excellent cross from right-back Serge Aurier.

Two minutes later the West Africans went ahead at 2-1. Again Aurier provided a cross from the right and this time it was Gervinho who scored with a stooping header at the near post that really should have been saved by Eiji Kawashima.

Drogba nearly extended his side’s advantage in the 82nd minute with a great shot on target from a free kick, but this time Kawashima redeemed himself with a fine save.

Cote d’Ivoire’s next World Cup match is against Colombia in Brasilia on June 19, while Japan face Greece in Natal.

MATCH STATISTICS
MATCH VENUE REFEREE
GROUP STAGE ARENA PERNAMBUCO
COTE D'IVOIRE GOALS JAPAN GOALS
12. Wilfried Bony (64') 4. Keisuke Honda (16')
10. Gervinho (66')
CAUTIONS DISMISSALS CAUTIONS DISMISSALS
2 2
COTE D'IVOIRE STARTING LINEUP JAPAN STARTING LINEUP
Goalkeeper
1
Goalkeeper
1
Defender
75'
3
Defender
2
Defender
58'
5
Defender
64'
6
Defender
17
Defender
23'
22
Defender
54'
22
Defender
5
Midfielder
9
Midfielder
16
Midfielder
62'
20
Midfielder
54'
17
Midfielder
19
Forward/Striker
16'
4
Forward/Striker
66'
10
Forward/Striker
86'
10
Forward/Striker
8
Forward/Striker
9
Forward/Striker
64'
78'
12
Forward/Striker
67'
18
SUBSTITUTIONS
Didier Drogba
Forward/Striker
62'
11
Yasuhito Endo
Midfielder
54'
7
Constant Djakpa
Defender
75'
18
Yoshito Okubo
Midfielder
67'
13
Didier Konan Ya
Midfielder
78'
13
Yoichiro Kakitani
Forward/Striker
86'
11
CARDS
Souleymane Bamba
Defender
54'
22
Maya Yoshida
Defender
23'
22
Didier Zokora
Defender
58'
5
Masato Morishige
Defender
64'
6
KEY
Goal
Penalty Missed
Yellow Card
Substitute IN
Own Goal
Penalty Shootout Goal
Yellow / Red Card
Substitute OUT
Penalty
Penalty Shootout Miss
Red Card
Injury
GALLERY
COMMENTS
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