Ivory Coast bow out with win
Ivory Coast are out of the World Cup despite a 3-0 victory over North Korea as they fell at the first hurdle in South Africa.
By James Riach
Last Updated: 25/06/10 10:15pm
Ivory Coast did their best to achieve a mathematical miracle to advance from Group G, but despite a 3-0 victory over North Korea, they fell at the first hurdle in South Africa.
The Elephants needed a swing of nine goals as they looked to peg back Portugal to advance to the knockout rounds, but with Carlos Queiroz's men drawing 0-0 with Brazil, their win in Nelspruit proved irrelevant.
Sven-Goran Eriksson's men did themselves proud though, and came firing out of the blocks as Yaya Toure gave them the lead with a precise finish from the edge of the area on 14 minutes.
Romaric then made it two in the 20th minute with a header after Didier Drogba had rattled the crossbar, and the Africans were unlucky not to add more before half-time.
Substitute Salomon Kalou scored the third with eight minutes remaining, but it was not enough to seal their progression into the last 16.
As soon as the game kicked-off it was total domination from the Ivory Coast, as North Korea began where they left off against Portugal.
Having conceded six goals in the second-half against the Portuguese, it could have been a similar story in the opening period in Nelspruit.
Kader Keita burst into the area in the first minute after being fed in by a lovely ball from Yaya Toure, but his shot was saved by Ri Myong Guk.
The Elephants continued to pile on the early pressure and had long-range efforts saved from Arthur Boka and Romaric.
Highly-rated attacker Gervinho looked lively in the opening exchanges and in the 10th minute he got to the by-line on the left side of the area and dragged the ball across the face of goal, but Drogba was nowhere to be seen.
Drogba then had a header correctly ruled out for offside before Yaya Toure broke the deadlock with a great effort.
Left-back Boka advanced down the wing and picked out the midfielder with an excellent pass inside - Toure finished with great composure as he slid the ball precisely into the corner of the goal in the 14th minute.
North Korea were on the ropes and they were saved by the woodwork minutes later as Romaric cut inside from the right to hit a shot across goal, only to see it hit the post.
The Sevilla man did not have to wait long to find the net, however, as he doubled his side's lead after 20 minutes.
Boka was again involved and he picked out Drogba with a cross from the left, the Chelsea powerhouse brought it down and lashed a shot off the bar which rebounded off the ground before Romaric leapt well to head in.
The two-goal advantage was no more than the Ivory Coast deserved, and while qualification seemed an impossible task before the game, suddenly the Africans were in rampant mood.
Indeed, while Korea had a couple of attempts from free-kicks that drifted narrowly wide at the other end, they were lucky not to concede more before the break.
Keita volleyed just over just after the half-hour mark and Gervinho once more showed a great turn of pace to burst into the area and fire a shot that clipped the post in the 38th minute.
Emmanuel Eboue then flashed an effort over from long range before Gervinho looped a header at goal that was easily saved.
After half-time the Ivorians piled forward yet again, and five minutes after the restart Kolo Toure should have done better after being picked out at the far post from a free-kick.
Eboue then smacked a shot over from the edge of the area before using quick feet to get himself to the by-line in the 52nd minute, but his drag-back was hacked off the line.
North Korea broke with pace and Jong Tae-Se hit a powerful shot from the right that was well saved down low by Boubacar Barry.
Drogba headed narrowly over from a corner in the 56th minute but as the clock ticked down, the Ivory Coast's intensity dwindled as they realised their task was becoming increasingly unlikely.
There were further half-chances for Drogba and Gervinho before substitute Kalou fired over when he should have done better with just over a quarter-of-an-hour remaining.
North Korea came back into the match and Choe Kum-Chol had a shot saved before Tae-Se had a great opportunity to get on the scoresheet.
The ever-willing forward was chipped in and managed to get the ball under control, but he was denied at the last by some desperate defending with the goal at his mercy with nine minutes remaining.
Substitute Kalou had the final say, though, as he made it 3-0 in the 82nd minute after poking home from another deep cross from Boka.Ivory Coast exited the World Cup in style, but Ghana are now the only African team left in the competition and carry the hopes of a continent on their shoulders.
|North Korea||Team Statistics||Ivory Coast|
|0||1st Half Goals||2|
|4||Shots on Target||10|
|4||Shots off Target||14|