A pair of goals by Edin Dzeko gave Bosnia and Herzegovina a 2-1 win over Ivory Coast in a Road to Brazil match on Friday night at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.
Both teams are on their way to the World Cup next month, and this game gave each side a strong test ahead of the tournament. Though both had chances on the night, Bosnia were better at making the most of theirs, while defensive miscues from Ivory Coast paved the way for the Europeans to grab the win. Despite that, substitute Didier Drogba scored a late free kick in his 100th senior cap to narrow the margin.
Ivory Coast’s defensive frailties were finally exposed in the 17th minute. A long ball sent up by Bosnia was chested down into the box by defender Jean-Daniel Akpa-Akpro, apparently unaware of the Bosnian players lurking in the area. After Edin Visca’s subsequent shot was blocked by Gbohouo, Dzeko followed up on the rebound to bury the chance, putting Bosnia ahead 1-0.
A corner kick from Ivory Coast nearly led to the equalizer at the half hour mark, but towering striker Lacina Traore just missed the header as the ball flew through the goalmouth.
In the 42nd minute, Bosnia broke through the backline with a ball over the top from Miralem Pjanic, Dzeko received a cushioned header in the box from Izet Hajrovic for a wide-open shot, but the ball was cleared just in front of the line by Constant Djakpa. A minute later, Dzeko had another very good chance, but sent his shot high over the goal.
Dzeko scored his second in a display of good individual skill in the 53rd minute, as he received a pass at the top of the box from Pjanic, pivoted on his first touch and fired it past Gbohouo.
Bosnian captain Emir Spahic headed a looped shot off the line in the 60th minute, a few moments after Begovic misplayed a shot on target and the ball bounced around the area.
Both sides added considerable firepower to the attack just past the hour mark, as Drogba came on for Ivory Coast and Bosnia forward Vedad Ibisevic received a rousing ovation from the St. Louis crowd. Ibisevic spent part of his youth in the area and played collegiate soccer at St. Louis University.
Ivory Coast looked much better after Drogba's entrance, and his skill finally paid off in second-half stoppage time, as he hit a free kick from just outside the box that Begovic could not get to. The goal proved to be too little, too late in the match for the Ivorians, however.
Next up for Bosnia and Herzegovina are a friendly against another World Cup-bound side, Mexico, in Chicago on Tuesday, while Ivory Coast will take on El Salvador at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, on Wednesday.