Cote d’Ivoire lose out to Greece

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AS IT HAPPENED

Ivory Coast needed little more than a draw to advance from Group C as runners-up, with Colombia in top spot. Greece came into the match needing nothing but a win, and their performance showed just that.

Greece were forced into making two changes in the first half due to injury, and saw goalkeeper Karnezis as well as Kone being replaced by Glykos and Samaris respectively.

Little separated the two sides in the firs half hour, with Ivory Coast failing to make their final passes and convert their chances, while Greece looked the more threatening.

Holebas had the best chance of the match in the 33rd minute as he was unlucky to see his thunderous shot hit the Ivorian crossbar with Barry attaching as the ball looped over his head.

Gervinho and Drogba combined well in the first half but couldn’t make the best of their clever runs and passes.

A mistake from Tiote in his own half saw Samaras intercepting a poor back pass and feeding Samaris through on goal. The substitute made no mistake in placing the ball beyond the on-rushing Barry to give Greece a 1-0 lead in the 42nd minute.

Ivory Coast’s lack of concentration continued in the second half as they squandered possession without any real pressure from Greece. Salpingidis collected a loose ball in a good area and unleashed the first shot on goal of the half in the 58th minute, with Barry having to shuffle across and palm it over the bar for a corner.

Greece continued to apply pressure on Ivory Coast as they looked to double their lead to secure their progression from the Group. Ivory Coast were feeling the pressure and brought on Wilfred Bony in place of Tiote to add more numbers in attack.

Bony made and immediate impact and found the equaliser for Ivory Coast in the 74th minute, and that seemed to have settled the Ivorians who looked to run down the clock as a draw was enough.

Gervinho, arguably The Elephants’ best player was replaced in the 83rd minute by Giovanni Sio. The substitute proved costly as Greece placed the pressure back on a defensive-minded Ivory Coast, and they were rewarded with a penalty in the 90th minute after Georgios Samaras was brought down in the Ivorian box.

Replays showed that minimal contact on Samaras resulted in the striker tripping over his own leg, and the referee show no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Samaras made the penalty count as he sent the ball flying past Barry to seal the win, as well as secure qualification into the Last 16, for Greece.

It was heart-break for Ivory Coast as they failed to make history and advance beyond the group stage for the first time, and were the second African team to be knocked out of the 2014 FIFA World Cup after Cameroon.

Colombia advanced as group leaders with Greece going through as runners-up, while Ivory Coast and Japan were eliminated in Group C.

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