Gervinho silences Togo fans with 87th-minute winner
Ivory Coast started the African Cup of Nations on a positive note when they registered a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Togo in a Group D match played at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.
Ivory Coast had the upper hand early on tonight, relying on slow build-ups in a bid to penetrate the sloppy Togolese defence.
Africa’s top-ranked country was rewarded in the eighth minute when deadly striker Yaya Toure broke the stalemate through a low shot after receiving a terrific cross from Gervinho.
Togo gained momentum as the game progressed with midfielder Romao Jacques giving The Elephants defence a tough time whenever in possession of ball. The Sparow Hawks dominated the middle of the park towards the break, keeping the Ivory Coast defence on the back foot in search of the equaliser.
The Elephants captain and lethal striker Didier Drogba was kept quiet as he failed to show the spark that made him one of the best strikers in Europe.
Toure was the only live wire on The Elephants side and he was unlucky not to double the lead in the 43rd minute when his curling shot hit the upright with Togolese goalkeeper Mawugbe Atsu at his mercy.
Togo never gave up fighting and their efforts were rewarded on the stroke of halftime when striker Jonathan Ayite levelled matters with a clinical finish from inside the penalty box.
Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi replaced veteran and fans favourite Drogba immediately after the break because of an injury. Toure could not believe it when he ballooned the ball over the crossbar in the 75th minute after receiving a great pass from Ya Konan.
As the fans had already settled for a draw, Gervinho silenced the Togolese fans when he grabbed the winner in the 87th minute when he slotted the ball into the net from a goalmouth scramble.
- Maxwell Ramaru