Powered by two goals scored in a two-minute span in the second half, the Ivory Coast overturned an early Keisuke Honda goal to beat Japan 2-1 in Recife on Saturday night.
Persistence pays off: When all seemed lost on the Ivory Coast front after a bevy of missed opportunities, they finally broke through the Japan defensive wall in the 64th minute. After taking 16 shots with no luck, the African side found the back of the net on consecutive shots, both headers, to turn a one-goal deficit into a one-goal advantage.
Drogba dividends: While he wasn’t directly involved with either Ivory Coast goal, wily veteran Didier Drogba stepped onto the pitch in the 62nd minute with his nation down a goal. Less than five minutes later, his side was up 2-1. Coincidence? I think not.
Reliable Honda: With his 16th minute goal, Honda recorded a goal in consecutive World Cups – a feat unprecedented in Japan. And there was no one on the Ivory Coast defense that was going to stop the Japanese star’s left-footed laser from hitting the back of the net.
Man of the Match: Serge Aurier. Ivory Coast were going nowhere until less than 30 minutes remained in the match. Aurier assisted on both goals with perfectly weighted crosses to the heads of Bony and Gervinho.