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Rediff.com  » Sports » PHOTOS: Ivory Coast comeback leaves Japan stunned

PHOTOS: Ivory Coast comeback leaves Japan stunned

June 15, 2014 11:11 IST

PHOTOS: Ivory Coast comeback leaves Japan stunned

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Two goals in two second-half minutes enabled Ivory Coast come from behind and beat Japan 2-1 in a dramatic World Cup Group C encounter.

Keisuke Honda’s goal after 16 minutes had put Japan ahead at the Pernambuco Arena in Recife, but the Ivorians, after introducing Didier Drogba from the bench just after the hour mark, turned turned the game on its head.

Within five minutes of the veteran striker's arrival on the rain-soaked surface, the Elephants scored twice, in the 64th and 66th minute, both times from Serge Aurier crosses.

The equaliser came when the right-back's curling delivery was headed home by Wilfried Bony.

Gervinho then connected with another Aurier centre to stun the sizeable Japanese contingent inside the stadium.

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Image: Wilfried Bony of the Ivory Coast (second from left) celebrates scoring his team's first goal with Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast as goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima of Japan reacts and Atsuto Uchida looks on.
Photographs: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

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PHOTOS: Ivory Coast comeback leaves Japan stunned

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The Elephants are desperate to finally progress beyond the group stage at a World Cup after failing in 2006 and 2010, and they were boosted in Recife by the presence in their starting line-up of Yaya Toure, who shrugged off a hamstring problem in time to captain the side.

 The result sees the Ivory Coast join Colombia -- who beat Greece 3-0 earlier in the day in Belo Horizonte -- on three points at the top of Group C, and Sabri Lamouchi's side must face the South Americans next in Brasilia on Thursday, withJapan next taking on Greece in Natal.

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Image: Didier Drogba watches from the bench as Japan score
Photographs: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

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PHOTOS: Ivory Coast comeback leaves Japan stunned

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What Japan lack in muscle they more than make up for in technical ability, and Honda displayed his class to put the Blue Samurai ahead.

Following a throw-in from the left flank, the ball arrived at the feet of AC Milan playmaker Honda at the edge of the box, and he took a touch before letting fly with a powerful, rising left-foot strike that gave Boubacar Barry Copa in goal no chance.

Honda also scored Japan's first goal at the 2010 World Cup finals, in a 1-0 victory against Cameroon in South Africa, before the Asian giants eventually bowed out in the last 16.

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Image: Keisuke Honda of Japan (No 4) celebrates scoring the team's first goal with teammates
Photographs: Clive Rose/Getty Images

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PHOTOS: Ivory Coast comeback leaves Japan stunned

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As the rain continued to fall, the Ivorians gradually came back into the contest with Yaya Toure and Arthur Boka both threatening from free-kicks and the latter seeing a fizzing long-range strike parried away by Eiji Kawashima in the Japanese goal.

Promising full-back Aurier, of French club Toulouse, was the source of both goals with two identical balls into the box from the right flank.

The equaliser came when Wilfried Bony connected with his head to send the ball flying past Kawashima and into the net at the far post.

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Image: Wilfried Bony of the Ivory Coast scores on a header for his team's first goal past Eiji Kawashima of Japan
Photographs: Clive Rose/Getty Images

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PHOTOS: Ivory Coast comeback leaves Japan stunned

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Two minutes later, Roma forward Gervinho was left unmarked to head into the net at the near post, and Japan never really looked like coming back into the contest after that.

e goal.

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Image: Gervinho of the Ivory Coast scores on a header for his team's second goal
Photographs: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

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PHOTOS: Ivory Coast comeback leaves Japan stunned

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Ivory Coast could have added to their lead, with Drogba twice almost getting his name on the scoresheet, including from a curling 30-yard free-kick that Kawashima did well to turn behind.


Image: Gervinho of the Ivory Coast (left) celebrates scoring his team's second goal with teammate Didier Drogba
Photographs: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

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