Tuesday Nov 17, 2020. 17:27
Ivory Coast were able to conjure what could prove to be a decisive point in a 1-1 draw away to Madagascar at Stade Barikamdimy in Toamasina on Tuesday.
The result leaves the two teams level on points (7) in 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifying Group K with two rounds of matches – set for March next year – remaining.
Ivory Coast got off to a good start and were rewarded for their efforts in the 15th minute. Jérémy Morel clearly handled the ball inside the area, leaving the referee with no choice but to point to the spot and Franck Kessié made no mistake, converting the resulting penalty to hand the Elephants an early lead.
The visitors continued to dominate proceedings and created further chances through Nicolas Pépé and Ibrahim Sangaré before the half-time break, neither of whom were able to convert.
Ivory Coast were made to rue their missed chances six minutes after the interval as Ibrahim Amada fired home an equaliser for the hosts. The midfielder, who donned the captain’s armband in place of Anicet Abel after he had tested positive for Covid-19, struck home a sweet left-footed finish from range that left Sylvain Gbohouo in the Ivorian goal with no chance.
Kessié came close to restoring Ivory Coast’s lead in the 64th minute. After turning his marker on the edge of the area, the AC Milan midfielder took aim at the top corner but unfortunately for him, the ball flew inches over the crossbar.
He continued to run the show and came even closer to completing his brace in the 76th minute as Madagascar goalkeeper Melvin Adrien deflected his powerful effort onto the woodwork.
In the end, both teams seemed content to settle for a point apiece with tough matches to look forward to in the new year.