Coasters eliminated despite win
By Sports Network
Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba and teammate Salomon Kalou walk off the field after beating North Korea 3-0 at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit. (REUTERS/Howard Burditt)
NELSPRUIT - Yaya Toure and Romaric scored in the first half and Ivory Coast defeated North Korea, 3-0, on Friday at Mbombela Stadium in Group G, but was still eliminated from the FIFA World Cup.
Toure and Romaric scored in the first 20 minutes and Salomon Kalou added Ivory Coast's third goal in the 82nd minute, but the African side ended third in the "Group of Death" behind Brazil and Portugal.
Brazil tied Portugal, 0-0, in Friday's other Group G match. Brazil finished atop the group with seven points, Portugal was second with five and Ivory Coast had four. North Korea was also eliminated.
Ivory Coast entered the match needing a win, a Portugal loss and to overturn a huge gap in goal differential, but failed to build on its early start and also failed to get help from Brazil.
Ivory Coast was easily the better side from the opening minute, when Toure put Abdul Kader Keita through into the right side of the area for an early chance, but North Korea goalie Ri Myong-Guk made a foot save.
Gervinho rolled a pass across the goalmouth in the 10th minute but North Korea cleared, and Didier Drogba headed past Ri in the 11th but was offsides.
Ivory Coast broke through inside 15 minutes when Arthur Boka slipped a pass to Toure at the top of the area, and Toure drove a shot into the bottom-right corner out of the reach of a diving Ri.
Romaric hit the outside of the left post in the 17th, and North Korea followed with its first decent chance on Hong Jong-Jo's free kick that swerved wide of the upper-right corner.
Les Elephants doubled their lead in the 20th minute following a header off the crossbar by Drogba. Drogba's shot crashed off the underside of the bar and the rebound was hammered inside the net by Romaric.
Hong had North Korea's only other opportunity of the opening half in the 25th off another free kick, but this attempt curled wide of the top-left corner.
Keita and Gervinho had two more good chances in the closing 15 minutes of the half for Ivory Coast, but Keita volleyed his shot high and Gervinho's shot was saved by Ri.
Ivory Coast continued to control the match after the break, and Emmanuel Eboue had the first real scoring chance off a half-volley from 20 yards that he put well over the bar.
Jong put North Korea's first shot on goal in the 53rd, but it was easily saved at the right post by Ivory Coast goalie Boubacar Barry.
Drogba headed wide from six yards off a corner in the 56th as Ivory Coast kept the pressure on, but with seven goals still separating Les Elephants from any chance at the knockout round, the Africans were running out of time.
North Korea's Jong Tae-Se had a rare look at Barry's goal in the 58th but shot a first-time effort from the right side well wide of the left post.
Drogba failed to direct a header on goal despite an open look from 11 yards in the 62nd as Ivory Coast wasted another chance. Romaric forced Ri to push a 20- yard blast wide of the post in the 68th to spoil another good chance for Ivory Coast.
Kalou had two consecutive chances around the 70-minute mark but Ri was able to save the first shot despite initially spilling the ball, and the second chance was well high as Ivory Coast's frustration built.
Choe Kum-Chol ended Ivory's Coast run of chances in the 79th, but his low shot was easily saved by Barry.
Jong had North Korea's best chance in the 81st minute, but he couldn't sneak a shot past Barry and Ivory Coast's defense from inside the six-yard box.
Ivory Coast capped the scoring in the 82nd minute when Boka delivered a cross from the left, and Kalou directed the ball past Ri.
North Korea, which last appeared in the World Cup in 1966, leaves South Africa without a point from three games. North Korea was respectable in a 2-1 loss to Brazil, but lost 7-0 to Portugal in its other match.