Elephants bow out


Ivory Coast convincingly beat North Korea 3-0 on Friday, but the comprehensive win was not enough to prevent the Africans from going out of the World Cup.
Needing a glut of goals to stand any chance of advancing from Group G, Ivory Coast left Salomon Kalou on the bench and opted for a three-pronged attack of Didier Drogba, Gervais Kouassi and Abdelkader Keita.
North Korea coach Kim Jong-hun kept faith with the same starting 11 that were ruthlessly dismantled 7-0 by Portugal in the previous game. Goals from Yaya Toure and Ndri Romaric gave the Ivorians a 2-0 halftime lead, but it could have been five or six as North Korea struggled to cope with the one-way traffic heading towards their net.
Ri Myong-guk was forced into action right from the kickoff, making a smart save from Keita, but there would be no respite for the North Korean goalkeeper as Ivory Coast flooded forward at every opportunity.
Drogba looked in the mood from the outset and had the ball in the net in the 11th minute but his header was disallowed for offside.
The Ivorians would not have long to wait though and in the 14th minute Toure took a pass on the edge of the area before opening up his body and curling the ball into the far corner of the net.
Romaric struck the outside of the post four minutes later but was on hand to nod the ball home after Drogba crashed a vicious shot off the underside of the crossbar in the 20th minute.
North Korea’s first and only chance of the first half came in the 25th minute when captain Hong Yong-jo stroked a freekick just wide of Boubacar Barry’s goal.
The West Africans picked up where they left off in the second half, Drogba sending a diving header wide and Kouassi failing to connect with Keita’s dangerous delivery, but North Korea looked far more organised in defence. Jong Tae-se almost pulled one back for North Korea in the 81st minute but he could not force the ball over the line.
Instead, Ivory Coast notched up a third when Kalou, on as a substitute, side-footed home from close range in the 82nd minute after a great cross from Arthur Boka.
l Portugal and Brazil played out an unsavoury goalless draw, including a flurry of first-half yellow cards, as both sides reached the World Cup second round yesterday after completing their Group G games unbeaten.
Brazil finished top of the section with Portugal second.
The match, one of the most eagerly-awaited of the first round, was a huge disappointment with neither team prepared to take risks and was marred by petulant behaviour on both sides.
Brazil, already qualified, surprisingly left Robinho out of their starting lineup, replacing him with Nilmar, while Julio Baptista stood in for the suspended Kaka in midfield.
Seven players were booked in a bad-tempered first half including Brazil midfielder Felipe Melo, hauled off just before halftime by coach Dunga and replaced by Josue as his duel with Pepe — also yellow carded — threatened to boil over. There were only three efforts on target before the break as both teams cancelled each other out.
The best first-half chances fell to Nilmar, who had his close-range effort tipped onto the post by Eduardo after a cross by Maicon and then saw a downward header from another Maicon cross bounce just wide of the goal.
Tempers calmed down after the break with Portugal looking the sharper and substitute Simao Sabrosa forced Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar to make a tricky save from a long-range effort at the second attempt.
Portugal should have gone ahead soon after when Cristiano Ronaldo’s run ended with the ball falling to Raul Meireles but his close-range effort was saved by Cesar who dived bravely to turn the ball around the post and was hurt in the process.
Brazil were without suspended playmaker Kaka and forward Robinho, who was rested as the five-times world champions were already sure of their place in the last 16.