Group G: Ivory Coast survived the second-half dismissal of midfield linchpin Romaric to see off Japan who themselves lost a key man late in today’s Group G clash in Sochi. Zaragoza man Romaric becomes the second dismissal of the tournament, following Michael Bradley’s red card for USA yesterday.
After an uneventful opening 20 minutes, the match came alive for quarter of an hour sparked by Salomon Kalou fizzing a shot inches wide. Romaric picked-up a yellow card on 24′ when he gave the ball away in midfield and clattered through Keisuke Honda in frustration. Three minutes later Honda’s free-kick from 20 yards came back off the bar before being hacked clear.
On 34 minutes, moments after Ibrahim Sissoko’s free-kick whistled over the top of Kuriyama’s bar, Ivory Coast took a deserved lead. Romaric took a free-kick quickly after Honda tripped Kalou, finding Ismael Yamoussoukro who pulled the ball back to Gervinho who rifled home from fifteen yards out.
Four minutes after the break, William® saw his excellent, curling 25-yard free-kick tipped round the post by a full-stretch Michel Koudou. Kiyotake whipped the corner into the near post and William met it at the near post to head home an equaliser.
Ivory Coast thought they’d retaken the lead on 52′ when Seydou Doumbia met Brice Dja Djédjé’s cross at the far post, bouncing down in off the crossbar, following some brilliant work down the right by Gervinho, but the flag was up. Romaric then got in the way of team-mate Doumbia as the two raced clean through, and the chance went begging.
The lead was restored just after the hour, when Sissoko’s set-piece was played to Gervinho who threaded a neat pass through for Ismael Yamoussoukro fifteen yards out who found just enough room to fire home off the woodwork for 2-1.
Just 25 seconds after the restart, Ivory Coast were down to ten men. Romaric went through the back of Kioytake on halfway and was shown a second yellow card by the Turkish referee. Japan sensed a chance, but were unable to find an equaliser.
Further bad news came for Japan following the match when it was revealed that goalscorer William had jarred his knee shortly before his late substitution, and looks likely to miss their next two group games, starting with Chile on Sunday.
FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP G IVORY COAST 2-1 JAPAN Gervinho 34 William 50 Yamoussoukro 62 Romaric s/o 63 Romaric Fujii