The Ivory Coast took their first victory of the 2010 World Cup behind a dominant first half, winning a convincing 3-0 decision against Korea DPR in Nelspruit.
In their first win the Elephants had little to celebrate as they came into the day needing a Portugal loss along with a land slide victory to overcome the imposing goal differential between them and the Portuguese – a 0-0 draw between Brazil and Portugal resulted in their elimination.
Côte d’Ivoire opened the game on a tear looking to make up ground in the scoring race early. An early opportunity was wasted when young striker Gervinho slipped the ball past the keeper across an empty net but could find no Ivorian to finish.
Their efforts would be rewarded in the 14th minute when Yaya Toure ripped a shot past the diving keeper to give the Barcelona man the opening goal.
It wouldn’t be long before they added to their total as Didier Drogba’s initial attempt just missed hitting the underside of the cross bar. As players argued whether the shot had crossed the goal line, midfielder Romaric continued to play having heard no whistle and eked a shot through defenders to make it 2-0 in the 20th minute.
Though the first half was predominantly an African offensive the North Koreans had an ample chance on a free-kick off the foot of captain Hong Yong-Jo who just missed the goal.
The second half would prove to be more impressive offensive display from the Ivoirians as a number of crosses sent to captain Drogba were headed cleanly off the post or just wide.
As the Elephants continued to push they couldn’t find the mark and it was becoming evident they were running out of time. With such a huge gap to overcome their chances dwindled with each miss and the hopes of a possible spot in the Round of 16 faded.
They would add another goal to the tally in the 82nd minute as Salomon Kalou touched a cross from Arthur Boka’s cross past the charging net minder for the consolation goal.
Korea DPR will have to face harsh criticism from their home land after coming away with no points in the tournament and conceding a whooping 12 goals.
For a team that began with the doubt of the status of superstar captain Drogba and having such high hopes coming into the tournament, the third place finish will be hard for Côte d’Ivoire to swallow.
Placed in the group of death for a second straight tournament is the only consolation in failing to qualify if the Elephants were looking for any.