Gervinho saves the day for Ivory Coast

Updated 22 January 2013
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Gervinho saves the day for Ivory Coast

RUSTENBURG, South Africa: Favorites Ivory Coast were made to sweat but eventually overcame enterprising Group D ‘lightweights’ Togo 2-1 to get their Africa Cup of Nations campaign off on the right note yesterday.
Premier League stars Yaya Toure and Gervinho got the goals for the continent’s top-ranked team with Jonathan Ayite scoring for Togo, back in the competition after the deadly Cabinda attack before the 2010 finals in Angola.
Despite all the pre-competition focus on Didier Drogba making his Cup swansong, the veteran China-based striker went largely AWOL throughout the match and was taken off with quarter of an hour to go.
Ivory Coast’s starting XI for the Group D opener featured three Premier League stars — Manchester City’s Toure brothers Kolo and Yaya and Gervinho of Arsenal, with Newcastle’s Cheik Tiote on the bench.
A fourth taking a busman’s holiday from the British winter to help his national cause was Togo’s talismanic Tottenham striker Emmanuel Adebayor, who decided to turn up after a protracted ‘will he won’t he play’ saga.
The match kicked off before barely a couple of thousand fans at the 42,000-capacity Royal Bafokeng stadium — a small crowd was only to be expected perhaps in Rustenburg, Afrikaans for ‘city of sleep’.
Adebayor almost nicked a goal in the opening seconds, when an Ivory Coast defensive blunder presented him with the ball bang smack in front of goal, but dithering undid him and keeper Boubacar Barry cleared.
On eight minutes Gervinho proved too quick for his marker down the right flank, his cross finding Yaya Toure who struck first time, the ball zinging through the Togolese defense, taking a deflection en route, and into the back of Kossi Agassa’s net.
The midfielder has now scored at every one of the last four Nations Cups.
Despite the gulf in class — they are ranked a yawning 63 rungs below the Ivorians — Togo were making frequent incursions into Elephant territory, with Ayite and Serge Akakpo proving particularly meddlesome.
Ivory Coast, beaten by Zambia on penalties for the title in 2012, seemed happy to sit on their lead, although Yaya Toure almost got a second when his shot ricocheted off the near upright. Then, in the second minute of stoppage time, Togo achieved something that no team had accomplished throughout the entire tournament last year — namely score against Drogba and company.
They drew level when Ayite knocked in Serge Akakpo’s corner from the left — the first goal Barry has conceded in 613 minutes of CAN action.
Togo had the ball in the back of the net for a second time approaching the hour mark off a corner but Cameroon referee Alioum Neant disallowed it, ordering the kick to be retaken as they had taken it too early.
Gervinho and Yaya Toure teamed up neatly again with 15 minutes left, Toure’s shot denied by Agassa’s superb reflex save.
Then, with two minutes left, Gervinho saved Ivory Coast’s blushes, this time Yaya Toure turning provider with the free-kick which the Arsenal man swept past Agassa.

Nigeria held

A last-gasp goal from substitute Alain Traore gave Burkina Faso a surprising 1-1 draw against 10-man Nigeria on Monday night.
Two-time champion Nigeria had controlled the Group C game from the 23rd minute, when Spartak Moscow striker Emmanuel Emenike poked home a clever back-heel volley from Brown Ideye, but had victory nicked from under its nose in the final play of the game.
Nigeria defender Efe Ambrose was sent off in the 74th minute for a second yellow card, but Burkina Faso lacked the creativity to break its opponent down until Traore capitalized on a slip by defender Godfrey Oboabona in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
Victor Moses was left out by Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi because of a slight hamstring strain, but his Chelsea teammate John Obi Mikel put in a solid performance and was named man of the match.
Aside from Traore’s unexpected strike, which came as Nigeria sat back and waited for the final whistle, only striker Moumouni Dagano was able to trouble Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.


But Nigeria were ultimately penalized for a lack of ambition after taking the lead, creating just one good chance in the second half when substitute Ikechukwu Uche cut inside from the left wing and blazed over the crossbar.
The Super Eagles then paid when Oboabona failed to make contact with an attempted clearance and Traore side footed home.
The result leaves all four teams in Group C with a point after Zambia was held to a 1-1 draw with Ethiopia in the earlier game.


‘Captain fantastic’ Harry Kane to the rescue as England beat Tunisia at the death

Updated 19 June 2018
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‘Captain fantastic’ Harry Kane to the rescue as England beat Tunisia at the death

  • Harry Kane came to the rescue with two goals, the second a dramatic injury-time winner
  • England had started brightly in a blur of passing and movement and could have been two goals up inside the first four minutes

VOLGOGRAD, Russia: Captain Harry Kane came to the rescue with two goals, the second a dramatic injury-time winner, as England began their World Cup Group G campaign with a stuttering 2-1 win over Tunisia on Monday.
Gareth Southgate’s men almost paid a heavy price for missing a slew of first-half chances when Tunisia’s Ferjani Sassi slotted home a softly-awarded penalty 20 minutes before half-time.
And the north Africans were still level as the game went past the 90-minute mark.
But Harry Maguire won a header from a corner and Kane was on hand at the far post to nod in the winner before being mobbed by his ecstatic teammates.
“I’m so proud of the lads,” Kane said. “They kept going, kept going to the last second.
“I am absolutely buzzing, everyone on the staff is. It shows good character to get the job done.”
England had started brightly in a blur of passing and movement and could have been two goals up inside the first four minutes.
First Jordan Henderson’s lofted first-time pass released Dele Alli and when the ball eventually broke to Jesse Lingard he saw his shot from six yards saved by the outstretched left boot of Mouez Hassen in the Tunisia goal.
Kane had been kept quiet in the opening salvos but he exploded into action in the 11th minute when he cut inside from the left and saw his shot from the edge of the box deflected wide for a corner.
Ashley Young delivered the set piece for John Stones to rise highest and meet with a powerful header. Hassen saved acrobatically but Kane was on hand to tap home the rebound with his right foot and open his World Cup account.
Hassen, who had injured his left shoulder making an earlier save, could not continue and left the field in tears as he was replaced in goal by Farouk Ben Mustapha.
England continued to press and were made to pay for not converting a succession of chances when they conceded a soft penalty.
Kyle Walker swung a lazy arm across Fakhreddine Ben Youssef who fell as if poleaxed and Colombian referee Wilmar Roldan pointed to the spot, with his decision being upheld by the VAR.
Ferjani Sassi took one step and fired home confidently past the hitherto unemployed Jordan Pickford and Tunisia who had been outplayed for the first half-hour were somehow level 10 minutes before half-time.
Still there was time for Lingard to come close again twice, first from a goalbound shot and then a dink over the keeper which agonizingly struck the post.
Alli too hit the woodwork with a header and England went into half-time wondering how they had not sealed victory already.
England still enjoyed the lion’s share of possession but could not find the same zip and penetration they had enjoyed at the start of the first half.
The ineffective Sterling gave way to Marcus Rashford with just over 20 minutes to go and the Manchester United man almost fashioned a chance straight away with a jinking run into the box.