Ivory Coast scored two late goals to wrap up a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Tunisia in their Group D Africa Cup of Nations clash in Rustenburg on Saturday.
Gervinho had put the Elephants 1-0 up in the first half and it seemed as if they would have a tense period at the end of the game to see off the North Africans, but Yaya Toure and Didier Ya Konan scored in the dying minutes to ease their nerves.
The Elephants surprisingly left the talismanic Didier Drogba on the bench for the start of the game, but his absence didn’t stop them from looking lively and energetic in attack, particularly in the first half.
Ivory Coast took charge of the game from the early minutes and proceeded to create several half chances. Their first clear opportunities arrived in the 19th and 20th minutes, but Salomon Kalou and Lacina Traore missed out.
However, just a minute later, Gervinho put the team in orange ahead, exchanging passes with Traore before sending a curling shot beyond the reach of goalkeeper Moez Ben Cherifia and into the back of the net.
The West Africans should also have been awarded a penalty toward the end of the first half when Tunisia captain Khalil Chammam handled the ball in the 18-yard area, but referee Rajindraparsad Seechurn of Mauritius waved away their appeals.
Ivory Coast thought they had doubled their lead 10 minutes into the second half when Kalou fired home from Gervinho’s pull-back from the by-line, but the Arsenal attacker had been flagged offside.
Tunisia brought on both Oussama Darragi and Hamdi Harbaoui within 12 minutes of the restart, but it was the Elephants who remained the predominant attacking force in the match.
The arrival of Didier Drogba in the 68th minute added an extra impetus to the West Africans’ attack but they still had to wait until the 87th minute to kill off the game as a contest as Yaya Toure fired home a long range screamer to double their advantage.
In the 90th minute substitute Didier Ya Konan steered home a low shot to make it 3-0 after an assist by the excellent Gervinho.