Ivory Coast step closer to quarters

2013-01-26 19:44

Missed opportunity of the match: Salomon Kalou fluffed a great scoring opportunity in the ninth minute.

Game-changer: Tunisia’s suspect defence finally cracked in the 21st minute when Gervinho broke the deadlock with a low shot.

Ivory Coast increased their chances of reaching the quarterfinals of the Africa Cup of Nations following an incredible 3-0 victory over Tunisia in a one-sided Group D match played at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.

Arsenal striker Gervinho scored the only goal to ensure The Elephants maintain their lead at the top of their group with six points from two outings.

Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi stuck to his favourite 4-3-3 formation and started with striker Salomon Kalou ahead of captain Didier Drogba who was on the bench.

The Elephants dominated early on, playing a quick passing game in a bid to penetrate the Tunisian defence.

Kalou fluffed a great scoring opportunity in the ninth minute with only goalkeeper Ben Mustapha to beat after receiving a terrific cross from Gervinho.

The France-based Lille star was the main culprit as he missed his fourth scoring chance in the 18th minute when he ballooned the ball over the crossbar instead of picking a spot.

The Tunisian defence struggled to cope with the pace of Gervinho on the left flank whenever he was in possession of ball.

The unbearable hot weather also worsened the situation as they were kept on the back foot by Africa’s top-ranked side through a series of attacks.

Their suspect defence finally cracked in the 21st minute when Gervinho broke the deadlock with a low shot, giving Mustapha no chance after a quick one-two exchange with Lacina Traore.

Mauritius referee Seechurn Rajindraparsad stopped the game in the 32nd minute to give players a minute’s water break to recharge.

Tunisia had a rare scoring opportunity in the 48th minute when striker Khalifa Saber’s curling shot from the left flank went past the goalmouth.

Luck seemed to have deserted Kalou as his goal in the 55th minute from the edge of penalty box was not allowed after Gervinho was judged to have crossed the ball from an offside position.

Lamouchi introduced fan favourite Drogba in the 66th minute for the tired Lacina Traore who had an outstanding first half.

Tunisia gained momentum towards the dying minutes of the match and the Ivory Coast defence was almost caught napping in the 83rd minute when Khalifa’s tame shot was saved by Barry Boubacar.

But Manchester City striker Yaya Toure put matters beyond their reach in the 87th minute when he scored the second goal through a curling shot from the edge of penalty box and Didier Konan hammered the final nail into the Carthage Eagles’ coffin with a clinical finish, to the delight of fans.

Afcon Group D - FIFA rankings

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