Paraguay 2-2 Ivory Coast: South American’s etch out draw against Les Elephants

30th May 2010 | World Cup Betting category: Football World Cup News
Football World Cup News

Goals: D. Drogba, S. Bamba (Ivory Coast) – L. Barrios, A. Torres (Paraguay)

 

It was honours even as two teams lined up to feature next month in the World Cup clashed in a game many were struggling to split the pair. The Ivory Coast, now under the management of Sven Goran Eriksson, who guided England to the 2002 and 2006 finals, find themselves in 2010’s edition of the ‘Group of Death’ alongside Brazil, Portugal and North Korea. With Brazil the highlight of their fixtures, this game with fellow South America Paraguay was ideal for them. For their opponents however, who take on Italy, Slovakia and New Zealand next month, the Ivory Coast were merely used as a warm up procedure as they represent nothing of that they’ll face next month.

 

In a first half which failed to deliver any goals, Chelsea’s Didier Drogba spurned two glorious chances to put a confident Ivory Coast ahead. His first glaring miss was a point-blank header no further than five yards out from the goal, with the recently crowned Premier League Golden Boot winner failing to get enough on his header to steer it goal wards. He was perhaps guilty of being too laid back with his second miss, after an adventurous run down the left by Chelsea team-mate Salomoun Kalou, whom calmly slid the ball back into Drogba’s path only to see his stride partner side-foot his goal bound attempt wide of a guarded Paraguay goal.

The Ivory Coast stormed out of the blocks after the break and were clearly the dominant force. Paraguay on the other hand strived to make the game as difficult as possible for themselves, with wayward passing leading to the South American’s relinquishing possession as soon as they reclaimed from an Ivory Coast side clearly buoyed by their final third dominance and glorious openings in the first half. It was attack-attack-attack from Les Elephants, getting forward whenever possible and as fast as possible, with the emphasis on patient build-up play not evident under their new Swedish regime.

The first goal of the game went the run of play, although was aided by a slice of good fortune, when Didier Drogba’s free-kick in a prominent position was deflected into the Paraguay goal. Thereafter, there only looked to be one winner as Drogba and Co continued to charge forward at every given opportunity. The reward for some aggressive attacking play was a second goal on 73 minutes when Souleymane Bamba doubled Les Elephants and seemingly put his country within touching distance of an impressive warm up victory.

As Ivory Coast appeared to be walking away with the game and a vitally huge friendly win over a fellow World Cup participant, Paraguay coach Gerado Martino played his trump cards by making three changes, one of which included the introduction of Man City forward Roque Santa Cruz. His emergence onto the fold sparked Paraguay into life, with his presence enabling the rest of the team to grow in confidence especially with their forward play. Although Santa Cruz wasn’t involved in Paraguay’s first goal of the game, the Guaranies were going nowhere up until he made his 70th international appearance and their first strike was of real quality when Lucas Barrios, a player who plies his trade in the German Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund, chested down a looping cross and volleyed home a lifeline for Paraguay. And slap bang on 90 minutes Ivory Coast returned the favour for Paraguay’s earlier helping hand in deflecting Drogba’s free-kick into their own goal, when an Aureliano Torres free-kick somehow found it’s way past a daunting Ivory Coast wall via the touch off a player in Ivory Coast colours, damping the celebratory mood of the Africans.

 

The game finished 2-2, although we feel Sven Goran Eriksson of the Ivory Coast will be the happier  manager, as Les Elephants more than held their own against a team widely tipped to do well in South Africa against the odds. Paraguay needed some fresh blood, and some Premiership quality from their star Santa Cruz, to spark them into action which does lead us to believe that without Roque Santa Cruz, a player which has been grounded with injuries throughout the campaign, Martino’s men could very well struggle to create and finish their chances at South Africa.



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