Saturday Oct 08, 2016. 22:18
The Ivory Coast scored three goals in eight minutes to seal a 3-1 come from behind win over Mali in their opening 2018 FIFA World Cup Group C qualifier at the Stade Bouaké on Saturday.
As a result, the Elephants move top of their group with Gabon and Morocco having played to a goalless stalemate.
Mali were the better side in the opening exchanges and opened the scoring on 18 minutes. A breakdown in communication between Eric Bailly and Sylvain Gabohouo opening the door for Sambou Yatabare who found the back of net.
The goal sparked the hosts into life, with Aston Villa forward Jonathan Kodjia leveling matters with a crisp shot from range in the 26th minute.
The Elephants hit the front seven minutes later; Salif Coulibaly unlucky to see his attempted clearance from a Serge Aurier cross fly into the back of his own net.
Gervinho doubled the hosts lead in the 34th minute. The last remaining player of the so called 'golden generation' showing his class with a left-footed finish from a tight angle.
The second-half failed to conjure any notable chances at goal as the Ivory Coast got their campaign off to a winning start. The West Africans are aiming to qualify for a fourth straight World Cup.
Ivory Coast (3) 3 (Kodjia 26', Coulibaly Own Goal 31', Gervinho 34')
Mali (1) 1 (S.Yatabaré 18')
Ivory Coast: Gbohouo; Aurier, Eric Bailly, Lamine Kone, Kanon, Serey Die, Kessie, Jean-Michael Seri, Gradel, Gervinho, Kodjia
Mali: Sissoko; Traoré, Coulibaly, Wagué, Koné, Sylla, S.Yatabaré, Coulibaly, Doumbia, Marega, M.Yatabaré