Ivory Coast dazzles to rout Tunisia

Updated 26 January 2013
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Ivory Coast dazzles to rout Tunisia

RUSTENBURG, South Africa: A vastly improved Ivory Coast put themselves within touching distance of the Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinals with a silky 3-0 win over Tunisia yesterday.
Under fire for an error-strewn opening win over Togo, the Elephants oozed class for much of this encounter with Premier League duo Gervinho and Yaya Toure and late substitute Didier Ya Konan getting the goals.
The result lifted the Ivorians to six points, which could be sufficient to earn them an early last-eight ticket should Algeria draw with Togo later in the second Group D tie.
In a surprise, Ivory Coast’s talismanic captain Didier Drogba was dropped to the bench.
The 34-year-old veteran, figuring at his last Nations Cup, proved a largely ineffectual presence against Togo, with coach Sabri Lamouchi taking him off with quarter of an hour to go.
Also out were Manchester City defender Kolo Toure and midfield duo Max Gradel and Ya Konan.
Lamouchi called up Lille striker Salomon Kalou and Anzhi Makhachkala’s young forward Lacina Traore, this pair joining Arsenal’s Gervinho in attack, and Newcastle midfielder Cheik Tiote.
Center-back and former Spurs player Didier Zokora (modestly using the nickname Maestro on his shirt) was handed the skipper’s armband.
Tunisia’s cause was severely hampered by the absence of key striker Issam Jemaa, who misses the rest of the competition with a knee injury sustained against Algeria.
In contrast to their curtain raiser, the Elephants were playing neater, crisper football here, with Gervinho, Traore and Yaya Toure troubling Tunisia’s backline.
Kalou blasted over on 18 minutes, then three minutes later Gervinho combined neatly with the influential Traore to slot a rising right-footed shot into the far corner of Moez Ben Cherifia’s net.
Poor old Tunisia weren’t getting much of a look-in as Ivory Coast unveiled the face of champions-in-waiting for the first time at 2013.
The frenetic early pace ebbed away as the interval loomed, with Ivory Coast having legitimate claims for a penalty for Khalil Chammam’s handball turned down by the Mauritian referee.
On 56 minutes a deft movement involving Traore, Gervinho and Kalou saw the ball in the back of the net, only for Gervinho to be harshly ruled offside.
A big cheer went up when Drogba began to warm up on the touchline, and an even bigger one when he made his stately entrance for the final quarter with Traore making way.
Tunisia, who grabbed a last minute winner against Algeria, finished strongly again with Saber Khalifa squandering a chance to level before goals from Yaya Toure and Ya Konan seconds after entering the fray in the closing two minutes rounded off a perfect night for the top-ranked team on the continent.

Burkina Faso wins
Meanwhile, Alain Traore scored two goals to help 10-man Burkina Faso take control of Group C with a 4-0 victory over Ethiopia in the African Cup of Nations.
Goalkeeper Abdoulaye Soulama was sent off with Burkina Faso leading 1-0 with half an hour remaining for handling the ball outside the area. Ethiopia was unable to capitalize, and Djakaridja Kone and Jonathan Pitroipa rounded off the scoring for Burkina Faso to put it top of its group with four points.


Iranian fans attempt to disrupt Portugal’s sleep at hotel

Updated 30 min 42 sec ago
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Iranian fans attempt to disrupt Portugal’s sleep at hotel

  • Hundreds of Iranian fans spent several overnight hours surrounding the hotel where Portugal’s national team is based
  • Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was filmed by Portuguese TV RTP late at night by the window using gestures to ask the Iranian fans to be silent

SARANSK: Hundreds of Iranian fans spent several overnight hours surrounding the hotel where Portugal’s national team is based, making loud noises in an attempt to disrupt their opponents’ sleep before a decisive World Cup match later Monday.
Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was filmed by Portuguese TV RTP late at night by the window using gestures to ask the Iranian fans to be silent, but Monday morning there were still a few dozen of them playing loud music near the hotel in the Saransk city center.
Iran can only advance to the next stage of the World Cup if it beats the European champions. Portugal only needs a draw, but also aims to take the top position in Group B ahead of Spain.
Saransk police said they received their first calls about the noise about 11 p.m. Sunday, when a first wave of Iran fans arrived and started singing outside the hotel. That forced Ronaldo to show up, which convinced supporters to leave.
Then a second wave came and did not stop making noise for several hours. Police then blocked roads nearby, but the main avenue across the hotel was still open, which allowed Iran fans to keep their effort in smaller numbers.
Iran fan and IT consultant Mehdi Fayez arrived Monday morning after reading messages from supporters saying they needed to trouble Portugal to stand a better chance of winning the match.
“I love Ronaldo, I love Portugal, but this is a big game. We have to do all it takes,” a still joyful Fayez said, as he held an Iranian flag on the back of his head.
Montreh Fayoud, one of the several Iranian women that are attending their first World Cup, disagreed.
“We were coming back from dinner and saw all these Iranians here. When I found the reason, I decided to leave,” she said.
At about noon on Monday Portugal players had a quick walk around the hotel, but it is uncertain whether they will walk around the city as they did before other matches in Russia.