Kalou inspires Elephants into last eight

Emmanuel Eboue was sent off, but Ivory Coast survived his loss to book their place in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations with an emphatic performance against Ghana last night.

After drawing 0-0 against Burkina Faso in their opening game on Monday, this was a far more impressive showing from the tournament favourites, the return of Salomon Kalou seeming to give their attack a flexibility it had lacked.

Ghana must now beat Burkina Faso in their final game – in Luanda on Tuesday – and they may have to so without their captain Michael Essien, who seemed to be labouring in the final minutes having apparently suffered an adverse reaction to his return after a hamstring injury.

"We played really efficiently," said Didier Drogba. "We played well even with 10 men and knowing how good Ghana are, I would say this was a great result. We tried to win the first game and I think we played well then, but in the second game we were a bit luckier and scored some goals. Even though the pitch was difficult we tried to play good football."

Their opener, midway through the first half, came after just such a passage of intelligent play. Yaya Touré's through-ball was perfectly weighted for Salomon Kalou, and as the goalkeeper Richard Kingson advanced, he calmly knocked the ball square for Gervinho to knock in his third goal for his country.

Boubacar Barry, the Ivorian goalkeeper, promptly unfurled a narrow banner dedicating the goal to the victims of last Friday's terrorist attack on the team-bus of Togo, who should have been the fourth side in what is now a three-team group.

They were 1-0 up and seemed to be cruising when Eboué was dismissed 10 minutes after half-time, lunging from behind into the standing leg of Kwadwo Asamoah. Briefly, as Matthew Amoha volleyed against the post and Asamoah had a free-kick tipped over by the jittery Barry, it looked as though Ghana might find a way back into the game, but the match was settled by a superb free-kick from Siaka Tiene. It was a goal at a crucial time and, for a side who have in the past so regularly faltered under pressure, it seemed to hint at the sort of resilience that has previously been absent

Drogba, who had a quiet match, headed in Kader Keita's cross in injury time to make it 3-0, and although Asamoah Gyan converted a late penalty, controversially awarded after he had gone down under challenge from Soulemane Bamba, it did little to alter the impression of Ivorian power.

"There was a lot of heat in the game," said Yaya Touré. "Getting our first goal of the tournament was difficult for us, but we played tough and played well."

Ivory Coast (4-3-3): Barry; Eboué, K Touré, Bamba, Tiene; Zokora, Y Touré (Fae, 67), Tiote; Gervinho (Demel, 60), Drogba, Kalou (Keita, 84).

Ghana (4-1-4-1): Kingson; Inkoom, Vorsah, Addo, R Ayew; Narry (Essien, h-t); D Ayew (Gyan, 46), Agyemang-Badu, Asamoah, Opoku (Afful, 77); Amoah.

Referee: J Damon (South Africa).

Match Guide: Fixtures

*Nigeria v Benin

Group C, 4pm (Eurosport)

Nigeria face a must-win game following their surprising opening defeat against Egypt. The Super Eagles began Tuesday's match well before going down 3-1 and should be confident of better against an unfancied Benin side. The Squirrels threw away a two-goal lead against Mozambique and could pay dearly for that today.

*Egypt v Mozambique

Group C, 6.30pm (Eurosport)

Defending champions Egypt can guarantee a place in the quarter finals with a win in Benguela tonight, although they may have to do without Hosni Abd-Rabou, Hossam Ghaly and Wael Gomaa, who are all struggling with a virus. Opponents Mozambique came from behind in their opener to earn a draw against Benin but should prove easy pickings for Egypt.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore