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Elephants Bow Out With Emphatic Win
June 25, 2010
Cote d’Ivoire bowed out of the 2010 FIFA World Cup with an emphatic 3-0 win over Korea DPR in Nelspruit’s Mbombela Stadium on Friday afternoon.
Needing to inflict a heavy defeat on the Asians, and hoping that Brazil could do a similar thing to Portugal in the concurrent Group G game in Durban, the Elephants were unable to rack up the score needed to give them the requisite swing in their favour on goal difference.
Cote d’Ivoire’s victory was merely academic anyway, as Portugal and Brazil played to goalless draw which saw the former finish in second place a point ahead of Sven-Goran Eriksson’s team.
There was a glimmer of hope for the Africans when a fast start saw them go 2-0 up within the first 20 minutes, but a North Korean side determined not to suffer a repeat of the 7-0 embarrassment they had against Portugal earlier in the week, were able to pack numbers in defence and keep the score down despite their opponents’ dominance of possession.
Cote d’Ivoire almost opened the scoring in the very first minute, with Kader Keita playing a one-two that gave him a sight of goal in the penalty area, but goalkeeper Ri Myong Guk made a good save with his right foot.
On ten minutes Gervinho burst free down the left of the box and pulled a great ball back from the byline that beat Ri Myong Guk and passed right across the face of goal but the West Africans had no one there to score what would have been a tap-in.
A minute later Didier Drogba had the ball in the back of the net after powering home a typically bullish header but his celebrations were cut short when he saw the referee’s assistant had raised his flag for offside.
On 14 minutes the Elephants’ efforts were rewarded when they took a deserved lead, Yaya Toure stroking home a pin-point low shot from the edge of the box after receiving a pass from left-back Arthur Boka.
Three minutes later Romaric hit the outside of the far post with a shot after cutting inside from the right that seemed to catch the North Korean defence unawares.
With less than 20 minutes played the Africans doubled their advantage. Drogba pulled a long ball out of the air and turned to fire a shot off the underside of the crossbar; the ball rebounded down to the pitch and bounced kindly for Romaric to head his side into a 2-0 lead.
North Korea’s Hong Yong Jo almost pulled one back for his team on 24 minutes, curling a free kick just wide of Cote d’Ivoire’s goal that had ‘keeper Boubacar Barry beaten all ends up.
Cote d’Ivoire very nearly scored a third in the 38th minute, with Gervinho arriving unmarked in the box and getting away a shot only to see it flick off the outside of the goalkeeper’s right hand post.
The Elephants picked up at the start of the second half where they left off in the first, but too often the final pass or shot wasn’t quite up to the standard of their build-up play.
Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson sought to give side fresh legs in attack just past the hour mark, introducing Salomon Kalou and Aruna Dindane to play as part of a front three with Drogba.
Yet when the clock ticked past the 70 minute mark with the score still just 2-0, it seemed as if Cote d’Ivoire had accepted that all hope was gone. In fact, Korea DPR almost pulled one back in the 81st minute but Jong Tae Se was denied by some good defending.
The Elephants immediately broke away on a counter attack and added the third goal through Kalou, who beat the ‘keeper to Boka’s cross and volleyed home from close range.
Korea DPR 0
Cote d’Ivoire (2) 3 (Y. Toure 14’, Romaric 20’, Kalou 82’)
Korea DPR: (5-4-1) Ri M.G.; Cha J.H., Pak C.J., Ri J.L., Ji Y.N., Ri K.C.; Hong Y.J., An Y.H., Pak N.C., Mun I.G (Choe K.C. 67’).; Jong T.S.
Cote d’Ivoire: (4-3-3) Barry; Eboue, K. Toure, Zokora, Boka; Romaric (Doumbia 79’), Y. Toure, Tiote; Keita (Dindane 64’), Drogba, Gervinho (Kalou 64’)
Referee: Alberto Undiano (Spain)