Gervinho, Yaya Toure and Didier Ya Konan scored a goal each in a 3-0 win against Tunisia on Saturday in Rustenburg, securing Cote d’Ivoire’s ticket to the quarterfinals of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
The Elephants, short of the services of their talismanic captain Didier Drogba, gained a foothold after the first quarter, with Salomon Kalou missing two clear cut chances after his close-range header failed to find the target and a powerful drive from 20 yards was blocked by Tunisia goalkeeper Ben Cherifia.
By the 21st minute, the Ivorians were still on top of proceedings and opened the scoring through a corner kick, when Gervinho snatched a loose ball from a Tunisian defender to the left of the box before hitting a low pass to Anzhi Makhachkala forward Lacina Traore, who threaded back to the Arsenal player, who side-footed his effort well to put the West Africans ahead.
The north Africans showed some determination to pull level after the half hour mark. Some neat passing between Saber Khlifa, Mejdi Traoui and Msakni up front could have created goal chances but failed to survive a well-drilled Ivorian defensive system.
Traore had the first goal opportunity after the break from a free kick executed by PSG’s Siaka Tiene, but the tall striker headed down to the side of the post.
Tunisia coach Sami Trabelsi brought in Oussama Darragi and Hamdi Harbaoui at the hour mark as the Eagles hustled and harried for an equalizer. Khlifa was served to the right flank of the Ivorian area, but after outrunning his marker and charging into the box, he hit a powerful effort that whistled just wide.
Cote d’Ivoire retook domination during the last 10 minutes of the meeting, with Yaya Toure doubling the lead after linking a cross from Tiene and unleashing a long-range effort that finished inside the Tunisian net.
Last-minute substitute Didier Ya Konan of Hannover scored the third goal for the Elephants after collecting an assist from Gervinho.
The Elephants have now qualified for the quarterfinals after totalling six points from their two victories.
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