Ivory Coast retaliated to falling behind by staging a second half comeback in a narrow 2-1 win against Japan. Renowned Premier League stars, current and former, Wilfried Bony and Gervinho each got on the scoresheet, just two minutes of each others goal, following an impressionable and active cameo from legendary forward Didier Drogba who contributed to his teams victory.
Japan got off to a flying start on the 15th minute with Keisuke Honda firing high and powerfully into Barry's net, capitalising on some questionable and static defending from the Africans. Their first shot on goal resulting in a goal.
The leading side went close to adding to their tally almost instantaneously with Uchida remarkably making a quick, late surge from deep on his right flank, cutting onto his left and firing low to the keepers post, resulting in a corner. From the corresponding corner, a defensive lapse almost allowed Shinji Kagawa a chance on goal.
In contrast, Ivory Coast's biggest asset as their athleticism and pace exploiting space. Two instances occurred with Cote D'Ivorie winning free-kicks due to purposeful running which forced cynical fouls from the Japanese. Manchester City star Yaya Toure, firing the first powerfully aloof before left back Boka narrowly saw his shot go over the bar.
Les Elephants found it difficult to break down a resolute Japan side, despite enjoying the large bulk of possession. Whereas Ivory Coast didn't produce enough for their possession, Japan were efficient and economical when they had sporadic possession, with Honda particularly coming to the fore.
Withe the introduction of Drogba not too long after the interval, it would have been prudent to suggest his contribution would be the turning point for an Ivory Coast revival. Not the case however, with arguably the worst performer on the pitch in the first half; Wilfried Bony converting a precise glancing header from Aurier's exceptional cross.
And the right back - attracting admiring glances from Arsenal, proved to be instrumental in turning the game in Cote D'Ivoire's favour. Providing another immaculate cross for Gervinho to connect with superbly and guide into the bottom corner. The right flank being a continual area the Africans looked to exploit.
Ivory Coast were comfortable then on out with Honda the sole threat for Samurai Blue. Drogba went close on occasion to increasing his sides tally while Gervinho should have fared better in counter-attacking situations.
XI: Barry (6), Aurier (7), Zokora (5), Bamba (6), Boka (6), Y. Toure (6), Tiote (7), Die (6 ), Gervinho (7), Bony (6), Kalou (6)
Subs: Drogba (6), Djakpa (5), Ya (N/A)
XI: Kawashima (6), Uchida (7), Morishige (4), Yoshida (5), Nagatomo (5), Yamaguchi (6), Hasebe (6), Okazaki (5), Honda (7), Kagawa (6), Osako (6)
Subs: Endo (5), Okubo (5), Kakitani (N/A)
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