Côte d’Ivoire, with 3 points, will look for a victory or at least a draw against Greece, to ensure their qualification from group C and retain the hopes of Africa to make an impression in this edition of the World Cup. The iconic Didier Drogba started in a strong attacking line up that clearly showed their intentions. Greece, earning only a point from their first two games would likely keep it tight at the back and counter at pace looking for an unlikely win to be able to qualify.
The game started with Côte d’Ivoire looking to take control of the midfield but Greece were acquitting themselves well. A fine run from Gervinho after combining with Drogba was smartly intercepted by Manolas, who pushed the ball out for a corner. Greece lost Kone to injury in the 12th minute, replacing him with Andreas Samaris. Shortly after Barry dashed out to save at the feet of the Greece attacker; Salpingidis.
Gervinho and Drogba were looking lively for Côte d’Ivoire in a scrappy game fraught with injury threats. Greece lost their goalkeeper, Karnezis on the 24th minute with the substitute Glycos earning only his fourth cap.
Holebas hit the crossbar from a counter attacking move on the 33rd minute, with Barry beaten and the free kick thereafter was easily saved. Didier Drogba received a caution for a foul on Andreas Samaris as Karagounis and Georgios Samaras were leading their team brilliantly in closing down spaces and stifling the play of the Ivorians.
Against the run of play, Andreas Samaris capitalised on a defensive error by Tiote to break away and score their first goal of the 2014 World Cup on the 42nd minute. Yaya Toure drove into the box in the 44th minute but the Greece defence held firm, to thwart the Ivorians’ immediate response. First half ended 1:0 in favour of Greece.
The second half started with Gervinho, Kalou and Drogba troubling the Greece defence as they sought an equaliser. Tiote’s shot on the 48th minute was saved by the keeper as Greece defended admirably. Greece were still looking dangerous on the counter with Lazaros almost stretching their lead on the 53rd minute.
Barry saves again from Salpingidis and the resulting corner was cleared by Drogba. Bony came on for Tiote as the Ivorians sought to break down the resolute Greece side. On a dangerous counter attack Torosidis was impeded by Kalou just outside the box and received a caution for his efforts. Karagounis’ free kick however hit the wall and the rebound was saved by Barry. Kalou’s brilliant dribble on the 67th minute, to evade the tracking Salpingidis and Torosidis was fruitless as he went narrowly wide with his shot.
Karagounis’ thunderbolt hit the crossbar with Côte d’Ivoire living a charmed life. On the counter, Greece cleared from an impending Bony shot on goal. Serey Die received a caution for a foul and the resultant free kick from Lazaros went over.
The equaliser came on the 74th minute with Bony finishing smartly from a Gervinho pass. Greece replaced Karagounis with Gekas as they sought to restore their lead. As it stands, a draw would be enough for Cote d’Ivoire to qualify. Drogba received a standing ovation as he was replaced by Diomande and Yaya Toure took over the captain’s armband.
Gervinho was replaced on the 83rd minute with Giovanni Sio coming on in his place. Lazaros’ shot from distance went narrowly wide as Greece kept pushing. Salpingidis’ cross into the box was almost turned in by the retreating Aurier who managed to avoid making contact with the ball.
Greece earned a free kick off Kalou and
lined up for the kick. The free kick was wasted and Côte d’Ivoire attacked with intent but could not finish. Georgios Samaras went down in the box in the final moments under the challenge of the substitute Sio and stepped up to convert from the spot, breaking Ivorian hearts.
The game ended in a most dramatic fashion, with Greece earning a controversial win in the closing moments and sending Côte d’Ivoire home, leaving their shell shocked players inconsolable. Another African side loosing their composure and letting a vital game slip off their hands.