Star-studded but sluggish Ivorians beat Togo
Posted: 22 January 2013 Time: 07:24 pm
Togo came close to equalising in injury time, but Ivory Coast held on for a win in their Group D opener on Tuesday.
It was hardly an impressive start to the tournament for the Ivorians, however, as they looked sluggish in defence and could have conceded three more – in contrast to last year’s squad who did not concede a goal in the 2012 Afcon.
Elephants captain Didier Drogba was well contained by Vincent Bossou, and was substituted off on 75 minutes, although Gervinho and Yaya Toure looked dangerous.
With a chaotic build-up to the tournament and a less than impressive squad, many pundits all but wrote Togo off ahead of this match, and they did look pedestrian at times, but ultimately they were unlucky not to get the draw.
Emmanuel Adebayor had a great chance to open the scoring just two minutes into the match, when Kolo Toure sloppily passed the ball back to his keeper. Adebayor intercepted the ball, but attempted to round the keeper languorously rather than simply shoot, and ended up not even getting a shot away.
On their first foray into the box, the Elephants opened the scoring. Gervinho raced down the right wing before pulling the ball back to Toure, who hit it first time. The ball ricocheted off Komlan Amewou and past Kossi Agassa.
Togo found the equaliser just before half-time, when a low corner found its way through to the six-yard box, and Jonathan Ayite reacted quickest to sweep it home.
There was controversy on 60 minutes when Ivory Coast made a change, with Salomon Kalou replacing Max Gradel. Seconds later Dare Nibombe headed home from a corner, but the goal was ruled out by the referee as the substitution had not been completed.
Nibombe was then shown a yellow card for a high tackle on Yaya Toure that looked like it deserved red.
On 75 minutes Gervinho made it into the box after some defensive confusion and played a pass into the path of Yaya Toure, who hit straight at the keeper from 15 metres – although it was a good snap save from Agassa.
Gervinho won the game for Ivory Coast with a fantastic finish. Yaya Toure delivered a free-kick from the right which sailed over the heads of the defence, only for the Arsenal man to meet it at the far post and volley it home with the side of his foot in mid-air.
In the fourth and final minute of injury time, Adebayor threaded a pass through which Bossou flicked on, and Dakonam Djene flew forward to head towards goal from six yards out, but Boubacar Barry made an acrobatic save to turn it away with one had, and the Elephants came away with the points.