Ivory Coast 2 Japan 1 match report: Didier Drogba inspires comeback win with Wilfried Bony and Gervinho on target for the Elephants

African side were a goal down when talismanic striker entered the fray and inspired two goals in two minutes after Keisuke Honda gave Japan the lead

Didier Drogba came off the bench to inspire Ivory Coast to a 2-1 comeback victory over Japan in their World Cup Group C match.

Drogba, who had been carrying an injury, came on in the 62nd minute with his team was losing 1-0.

Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi said it was "very correct to say when Didier Drogba came on the pitch, everything changed."

"You could see that it was very influential when he was on the pitch," Lamouchi said, highlighting the attention Drogba drew from Japanese defenders. "He created space for the players."

A mere two minutes after the talismanic striker's arrival, Wilfried Bony and Gervinho scored with headers two minutes apart. Both goals were set up by curling crosses from defender Serge Aurier. Keisuke Honda scores the opener for Japan with a powerful strike

"It's true that after (Drogba) came in, they had more confidence," said Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima. "It changed the match."

Lamouchi's inspired substitution negated Keisuke Honda's first half goal that had given Japan the lead in Group C. Colombia beat Greece 3-0 earlier in the Group's other game.

"I didn't think we were able to play as quickly as we normally play and needed to do," Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni said. "We really have to take stock of the situation rather quickly."

The 36-year-old former Chelsea star started for Ivory Coast in the last two World Cups, but neither of those sides made it out of group play. He probably lacks the fitness to play 90 minutes these days, but his impact as a substitute can be dramatic, as was shown on a rainy night in Recife.

"It's a beautiful victory. We are happy with the result. It's important to start well," Drogba said. "One can only be disappointed not to start a World Cup match, but I must respect those who did start. ... If we can say I had an impact on the match, that much better. It's important for me to add an advantage to the team."

Read more: Colombia 3 Greece 0: Rodriguez and Co lead toothless Greeks on a merry dance

Lamouchi said it wasn't easy for him to leave Drogba on the bench from the start, but credited Drogba for the way he handled the decision.

"To see the joy he experienced at the end of the match ... I am convinced he's a champion and we need him," Lamouchi said.

Now the Ivory Coast is in good shape to advance to the second round for the first time. Next up is Colombia, the group leader on goal difference. That match is Thursday, as is Japan's next test against Greece.

"We have to keep morale high because we know we can play better," Zaccheroni said.

Japan had the better of the play in the first half, taking the lead through Honda's left-footed strike from about 12 yards in the 16th minute.

Yuto Nagatomo slid a pass across the edge of the penalty area to Honda, who struck the ball cleanly with his right foot before belting his 21st international goal under the cross bar and inside the near post.

Japan had several chances to widen their lead in the opening 45 minutes, and will rue missing them. Wilfried Bony heads home for Ivory Coast to make it 1-1

Just minutes after Honda's goal, Japan defender Atsuto Uchida made a run down the right and unloaded a point-blank shot that Ivory Coast goalkeeper Boubacar Barry parried. Honda's curling shot from the edge of the penalty area soon after forced Barry to make a leaping save.

Ivory Coast dominated the second half but the sluggish-looking team was making little headway until the arrival of Drogba galvanised it. Within minutes, Bony's angled header found the goal and then Gervinho scored with a near post header that Kawashima should have saved.

Japan could not make any impression on the Ivory Coast defense in the remaining 20 minutes.

The game marked the World Cup debut for Lamouchi, a 42-year-old Frenchman of Moroccan descent who was widely seen as a surprise hire in 2012. It was also an unpopular move among fans in the Ivory Coast, who favored a more experienced coach for a team which has been to the previous two World Cups, and which has a number of players who have flourished in Europe's top professional leagues.

AP

Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum