Oct 23, 2013; Rio de Janiero, BRA; A general view of the inside of Maracana Stadium the site for the FIFA 2014 World Cup final and the opening ceremonies of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as members of the media tour the site during the first world press briefing. Mandatory Credit: RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

FIFA World Cup: Tropic Thunder As Côte d'Ivoire Rally Past Japan

A strong second half powered Sabri Lamouchi’s Côte d’Ivoire to a 2-1 win over Alberto Zaccheroni’s Japan in 2014 FIFA World Cup play at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil. With the win, the Elephants are in the driver’s seat to go through, alongside Group C leaders Colombia.

Here are six things we learned, followed by player ratings, for this FIFA World Cup match between Côte d’Ivoire and Japan.

1. Côte d’Ivoire on the march early

Early on in the match, Côte d’Ivoire’s Wilfried Bony was whistled for a handball. Bony had a shot from the outside of the box blocked in the sixth minute. A minute later, Gervinho also had a chance blocked, albeit from a difficult angle. Japan’s defense had to hold firm the first several minutes because the attacking football from the Elephants were looking to trample over their resolve.

2. Keisuke Honda starts things

In the 16th minute, Shinji Okazaki forced a corner with a goal-bound header, and Keisuke Honda was left unmarked to make it 1-0 Japan. Shinji Kagawa did well enough to set the play up for Honda on that sequence. So now the objective for Japan was to build on their goal. In the 20th minute, Atsuto Uchida had a shot from the right side of the box saved. Defender Maya Yoshida was cautioned in the 23rd minute for a foul. Ivory Coast bookend Yaya Touré had a shot sail high and over the bar in the 24th minute of play. Another Côte d’Ivoire standout, Salomon Kalou, had a shot miss high and wide right in the 27tth minute.

3. Côte d’Ivoire pressing hard for the equalizer

Côte d’Ivoire were pressing for the equalizer and had the elephant’s share of chances. The aformentioned Gervinho had another chance from the right side of the box blocked in the 34th minute. Arthur Boka had an attempt saved in the bottom right corner in the 35th minute. Honda was looking for a brace in the 36th minute but his chance was blocked. Gervinho’s next opportunity was blocked in the 39th minute, and Bony’s chance went too high. Kalou had a header from the from the center of the box sail high and wide left in the 43rd minute. Boka had another shot, from a difficult angle, saved in the bottom right corner in the 45th minute.

4. Wide open football early in second half

Early on in the second half, more chances came for Côte d’Ivoire, with Serge Aurier and Bony having chances blocked and missed wide right, respectively, in the 48th minute. Meanwhile for Japan, Makoto Hasebe was looking to get on the scoresheet but missed wide left in the 50th minute. A minute later, Hotaru Yamaguchi had a right-footed shot miss high from outside the box. In the 54th minute, Yasuhito Endo came in for Hasebe and Souleymane Bamba was cautioned for Côte d’Ivoire. Didier Zokora also was cautioned in the 58th minute for the Ivory Coast. That same minute, Gervinho had a header missed wide left. At the hour mark, Kalou had another shot miss wide left as well.

5. Didier Drogba makes it great

In the 62nd, Didier Drogba came in for Serey Die, and this is where Côte d’Ivoire began the comeback. Drogba won a free kick in the 63rd minute and Aurier found Bony to make it 1-1. Masato Morishige was cautioned for a foul leading to that free kick. In the 66th minute, Gervinho finally on the scoresheet and once again, it was Aurier that did the providing.

Japan were now forced to chase the game, and in the 67th minute, Yoshito Okubo came in for Yuya Osako. Honda had a left-footed shot from outside the box miss to the left. Boka was substituted for Constant Djakpa in the 75th minute to bring in some fresh legs.

6. Côte d’Ivoire close out match in strong fashion

In spite of the lead, Côte d’Ivoire and they wanted to close out the match in style. Touré had another shot miss wide left in the 77th minute. In the 78th, Bony left the game and in came Didier Ya Konan for the Elephants. Yuto Nagatomo had a shot in the 80th minute blocked. Drogba himself fancied a chance on goal but it was blocked in the 85th minute. In one last throw of the dice, Japan forward Yoichiro Kakitani came in for the midfielder Kagawa in the 86th minute, but it would not be enough, as the Samurai Blue conceded a bevy of corners to allow Côte d’Ivoire to see this one off.

Team Statistics

Côte d’Ivoire on left, Japan on right

21 Shots 7
5 Shots on Target 2
9 Shots off Target 3
7 Blocked Shots 2
8 Corners 5
23 Crosses 12
3 Offsides 1
12 Fouls 13
2 Yellow Cards 2
0 Red Cards 0
473 Total Passes 336
89 % Passing Accuracy 79 %
58 % Possession 42 %
48 Duels Won 52
11 Tackles Won 17
1 Saves 3
28 Clearances 20

Côte d’Ivoire Player Ratings

Boubacar Barry 6, Arthur Boka 7, Didier Zokora 5.5, Serge Aurier 9, Souleymane Bamba 6.5, Chieck Tiote 7, Gervinho 8, Salomon Kalou 7, Serey Die 6, Yaya Touré 7, Wilfried Bony 8, Didier Drogba 6, Didier Ya Konan 4

Japan Player Ratings

Eiji Kawashima 5, Atsuto Uchida 5, Masato Morishige 4.5, Maya Yoshida 3.5, Yuto Nagatomo 6, Hotaru Yamaguchi 5, Keisuke Honda 7, Makoto Hasebe 4, Shinji Kagawa 6, Shiji Okazaki 6, Yuya Osako 5, Yasuhito Endou 3, Yoshito Okubo 3, Yoichiro Kakitani NR

Tags: FIFA World Cup Japan

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