Cote d'Ivoire Out After Late Drama in Fortaleza

Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Yaya Toure evades a tackle from Carlos Sanchez of Colombia during their World Cup clash (file photo).

Cote d'Ivoire missed a chance of making history in the cruelest of fashions when a controversial late penalty for Greece sealed a 2-1 victory for the European side in Fortaleza on Tuesday that sends the Elephants tumbling out of the tournament.

The Ivorians were seconds away from sealing their first-ever second round appearance when Serey Die was adjudged to have fouled Georgios Samaras in the box and Ecuadoran referee Carlos Vera pointed to the spot.

Samaras converted to give Greece just their second ever World Cup finals victory and take them into the knockout stages for the first time.

Cote d'Ivoire had clawed their way back into a favourable position after they trailed 15 minutes from time to Andreas Samaris's goal, a gift from the Ivorian defence, but substitute Wilfred Bony netted what looked an all important equaliser for the African side.

It was not to be though as Samaras netted from the spot to send the Elephants home in despair.

Cote d'Ivoire coach Sabri Lamouchi opted to start veteran forward Didier Drogba for the first time in the tournament, with Bony dropping to the bench.

The opening half-hour had little in the way of action, both sides playing slightly within themselves. Perhaps the Elephants always though one point would be enough.

Greece hot the frame of the goal for the first of three times in the game to spark the fixture into life though with left-back José Holebas the unlucky man after he had been put clear by Georgios Samaras.

The opening goal did arrive on 42 minutes and again Samaras was involved. After Cheick Tioté had left his pass back to Kolo Toure short, Samaris played a one-two with Samaras and was through on goal, easily beating Boubacar Barry between the Ivorian posts.

Yaya Toure almost found an immediate replay but his goal-bound shot was deflected wide just when it appeared to be arrowing into the bottom corner of the net.

The African side had plenty of the ball in the second half, but it was Greece who almost scored next as Giorgos Karagounis saw his 35-yard shot cannon off the crossbar again.

Lamouchi went for broke in the closing stages, introducing striker Bony for midfielder Tiote in a desperate bid to get the goal they needed.

And it arrived on74 minutes as Gervinho was played in on the left-hand side of the box and his square-ball was neatly tucked away by Bony.

At that stage Cote d'Ivoire were through, but after some nervy moments in their shakey defence, disaster struck when Die clipped the calf of Samaras as he was shaping to shoot and the referee adjudged it a penalty.

Greece will now meet Costa Rica in the second round, while pool winners Colombia tackle Uruguay.

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