MALABO – An early Solomon Kalou strike and a late Bakary Kone own goal propelled Ivory Coast to a 2-0 victory over Burkina Faso and secured a quarterfinal berth at the Africa Cup of Nations last night.
Burkina Faso had never beaten their West African neighbours in eight previous encounters and that trend looked set to continue when, with just 16 minutes played, Salomon Kalou netted the matche’s opening goal.
The Chelsea forward latched onto a cross from Didier Drogba which the Burkina Faso defence failed to deal with and slotted home with his left foot beyond ‘keeper Douda Diakite’s reach.
Five minutes after going behind, Burkina Faso’s Alain Traore played a neat one-two with Moumouni Dagano leading into the box, but Traore could only shoot straight into Ivorian goalkeeper Barry Boubacar’s safe hands.
The match proceeded into a quiet spell from then onwards, with both teams lacking execution for their ideas. The referee blew for halftime with the Elephants leading 1-0.
After the break, with an element of surprise, Alain Traore unleashed a 30-yard long range shot which Boubacar held onto. Traore would have another bite at the cherry three minutes later but he fluffed the chance.
Burkinabe coach Paulo Duarte must have said something to his charges because they were now starting to impose themselves in the match, but the Elephants would soon wrestle the momentum back.
Gosso sent a beautiful cross into the box, but Gervinho blasted the ball over the bar when it seemed easier to score. The Arsenal forward was soon at again when he forced an excellent save from the Burkinabe ‘keeper Daouda.
With 18 minutes left to find an equaliser, Moumouni Dagano rose the tallest in the area but saw his effort ricochet over off the crossbar.
With eight minutes left to salvage something, it was lights out for the Stallions when Bakary Kone tried to clear a free kick floated into in the box but only succeeded in nodding the ball over his keeper’s reach for an own-goal.
The match would therefore end 2-0 in favour of the Elephants, who did not display the kind of football which they are expected to.