Monday 10 September 2012

Gervinho stars in Ivory Coast comeback victory

A review of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations play-offs featuring Barclays Premier League players

  • Senegal and West Ham's Mohamed Diame (left) vies with Man City's Ivorian Kolo Toure

Arsenal winger Gervinho was on target as Ivory Coast twice came from behind to overcome Senegal 4-2 in their 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying play-off first leg encounter.

The former Lille wide man and Manchester City's Yaya Toure provided two assists apiece for the hosts, with the former making it 2-2 in the second half with a run and shot in off the underside of the crossbar. Gervinho's goal cancelled out a spectacular 25-yard header from Senegal's Newcastle United striker Papiss Cisse in a match featuring a host of Barclays Premier League players including Manchester City's Kolo Toure and West Ham United's Mohamed Diame.

A penalty by former Chelsea forward Didier Drogba and a Max Gradel effort then gave the visitors a 4-2 lead to protect in Dakar next month. The aggregate winners of the second round fixture advance to the finals of the 16-nation tournament in South Africa in January.

Cameroon must also recover a two-goal deficit in their play-off second leg after suffering a shock 2-0 reverse at the hands of Cape Verde Islands. Goals in either half by Jorge da Silva Ricardo and Djanny have left the Indomitable Lions with it all to do in the return.

Mozambique also pulled off a surprise with a victory by exactly the same scoreline against a Morocco side shorn of Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh, who did not travel due to illness. Late goals by Amiro Lobo and Elias Palembe have made the underdogs favourites to progress to the finals.

Moses influence

Chelsea's new signing Victor Moses was instrumental for Nigeria, who were held to a 2-2 draw in Liberia. The former Wigan wide man launched a rapid counterattack to create Nosa Igiebor's equalising goal midway through the first half.

The visitors took the lead four minutes later when Moses was brought down in the area and Ike Uche scored from the spot, but the hosts pegged Nigeria back on 66 minutes through Sekou Oliseh.

Elsewhere, Fulham midfielder Mohamadou Diarra and West Ham's new signing Modibo Maiga helped Mali complete a routine 3-0 triumph over Botswana, with the latter producing the third goal for the Eagles, while Togo earned a 1-1 draw in Gabon as Tottenham Hotspur's Emmanuel Adebayor marked his international return with a crucial late equaliser.

The Africa Cup of Nations is usually held every two years, but is being played in 2013 to accommodate a switch from every even to every odd year.

The 16 finalists from this year's tournament play a two-legged tie against teams who won an earlier round of knockout matches to decide who goes through to the finals.

Africa Cup of Nations play-off first-leg results

Mali 3-0 Botswana
Ghana 2-0 Malawi
Liberia 2-2 Nigeria
Zambia 1-0 Uganda
Cape Verde 2-0 Cameroon
Sierra Leone 2-2 Tunisia
Sudan 5-3 Ethiopia
Ivory Coast 4-2 Senegal
Gabon 1-1 Togo
Central African Republic 1-0 Burkina Faso
Zimbabwe 3-1 Angola
Mozambique 2-0 Morocco
DR Congo 4-0 Eq Guinea
Libya 0-1 Algeria (in Morocco)
Guinea 1-0 Niger

Return legs to be played between 12th-14th October

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Key Points

  • Arsenal's Gervinho and Yaya Toure of Manchester City on song as Ivory Coast beat Senegal 4-2
  • Modibo Maiga of West Ham United on target as Mali sink Botswana 3-0
  • Chelsea's Victor Moses shines in Nigeria's 2-2 draw in Liberia