A two-minute burst in the second half saw Ivory Coast come from behind to defeat Japan 2-1 in Recife on Saturday.
Japan led 1-0 at half-time at the Itaipava Arena Pernambuco thanks to Keisuke Honda but Ivory Coast claimed victory with two goals in as many minutes just after the hour-mark.
Full-back Serge Aurier created both goals with impressive crosses from the right with Wilfried Bony and Gervinho taking advantage, although the latter benefited from poor goalkeeping from Japan’s Eiji Kawashima.
Saturday’s game was the first time Ivory Coast have won their opening fixture at a FIFA World Cup as the African nation look to claim a maiden berth in the knockout stages in their third consecutive appearance at the global tournament.
The shock in the two starting line-ups was the absence of captain Didier Drogba from Ivory Coast’s XI, after he failed to recover from a thigh strain suffered at training on Wednesday.
Bony took Drogba’s spot up front, while coach Sabri Lamouchi made two other changes to the XI that began Ivory Coast’s 2-1 win over El Salvador with Kolo Toure – who had struggled with malaria before the tournament – and Max Gradel being replaced by Didier Zokora and Yaya Toure.
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