In one of the most highly anticipated matches of the group stages, Portugal and the Ivory Coast opened up the ‘Group of Death’ with a 0-0 draw.
The main storyline entering the match was the fitness of Ivory Coast star striker Didier Drogba who required surgery on a injured right arm after going down in a heap during a friendly match against Japan before the World Cup commenced. The availability of the striker was in serious doubt with early reports even suggesting he may miss the whole tournament.
A miraculous recovery after surgery though had him back on the training grounds with teammates in preparation of the opening fixture.Before opening kick-off it was announced that Drogba would not start the game but was in fact on the substitutes bench.
The first half kicked off with both sides using a cautious approach to adapt to each others tactics. Cristiano Ronaldo proved the first moment of true danger in the game in the 11th minute hammering a shot from distance that clanged off the post.
The Portuguese star who has not scored for his country in over 16 months was left shaking his head at his lack of luck while Drogba was seen on the bench thanking the heavens that the ball did not go in.
Ronaldo would be given several other chances, particularly from free kicks but was unable to produce anything of significance.
With Drogba on the sidelines, the Ivory Coast attack was provided mostly by Gervinho who gave Portuguese right-back Paulo Ferriera problems with his pace and opened up avenues for his teammates.
Portuguese midfielder Deco worked his was into the penalty area and his cross was met by the waiting head of striker Liedson who was unable to beat Ivory Coast keeper Copa.
The introduction of Drogba as a substitute in the 65th minute provided the contest with a little bit more sizzle as both teams began to open up looking for the opening goal.
Drogba would in fact have a excellent opportunity in front of the Portuguese net in the dying minutes but peculiarly sent the ball across instead of striking at the net.
Both teams defences were quite strong with Ivory Coast centre-back Kolo Toure and Portuguese left-back Fabio Coentrao in particular putting in excellent showings.
The result leaves Group G with much to be decided with the Ivory Coast playing Brazil on Sunday in their next match while Portugal take on North Korea on Monday.