Live Commentary: Ivory Coast 2-1 Japan - as it happened

Relive with Sports Mole all the action from the World Cup Group C clash between the Ivory Coast and Japan.

The Ivory Coast and Japan faced off in their World Cup opener in Group C on Saturday at the Arena Pernambuco.

Both sides were looking to start their campaigns on a high note after disappointing performances in 2010 South Africa.

Japan took an early lead in the first half through Keisuke Honda, but the Ivory Coast rallied in the second half and scored two goals in two minutes through Wilfried Bony and Gervinho to secure the three points.

Read how all the action unfolded in our commentary below.

1amGood morning and welcome to the live commentary of the World Cup Group C clash between the Ivory Coast and Japan.

1.02amWell if you're just flicking over from watching England lose their opening game of the tournament to Italy, we have the perfect tonic to cheer you up and keep you awake as the Ivory Coast begin their campaign.

1.04amBelieve or not the Ivory Coast have failed to make it past the group stages in their last two World Cups despite the plethora of talent at their disposal. Yaya Toure and co will be hopeful of a safe passage into the last-16 this time around having been handed a more favourable draw then their last two tournaments.

1.06amLes Elephants booked their place in the World Cup by defeating Senegal in a playoff game after negotiating their way through their group stage. It was a very impressive qualifying campaign from the Ivory Coast as they won five and drew three of their eight games. They will be looking to continue that fine form in Brazil.

1.10amMuch will depend on the form of Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure who is coming off an excellent season as he notched 20 goals in the Premier League as his side secured the title. He also scored in the Capital One Cup final as City won the trophy, so the 31-year-old has proved he can deliver on the big stage already this year. He'll need to harness all that ability to guide his team through what could be a tricky group, but one that - on paper - they should be able to progress through.

1.12amAt 36 Didier Drogba best days are behind him, but he will be looking to fire one more time to help his side through to the knockout stage. It has been two years since he left Chelsea and he has been applying his trade in Turkey with Galatasaray, who he scored 10 goals for in 24 appearances last season in the Super Lig. He still has the quality to trouble quality defences, but it is key that he has support from the players around him.

1.15amAnother key member of Sabri Lamouchi's side will be Didier Zokora in the midfield. While Toure is raiding up the field it will be up to Zokora and Cheick Tiote to keep the door closed at the other end. Zokora may not have the legs he used to cover the ground, so he will have to use his experience and guile to add his side at the back. The 33-year-old made 39 appearances for Trabzonspor last season, so he is still capable of operating at a high level.

1.18amThe teams have been announced and we'll start with the Ivory Coast.

1.20amIVORY COAST STARTING XI: Barry, Aurier, Bamba, Zokora, Boka, Yaya Toure, Tiote, Serey Die, Gervinho, Bony, Kalou.

1.22amJAPAN STARTING XI: Kawashima, Uchida, Morishige, Yoshida, Nagatomo, Yamaguchi, Hasebe, Okazaki, Honda, Kagawa, Osako.

1.25amDrogba does not start for the Ivory Coast as Salomon Kalou and Wilfried Bony lead the line, what would be a front three with Gervinho. Yaya Toure starts in the midfield alongside Tiote and Serey Die, while Zokora and Sol Bamba occupy the two centre-back spots.

1.28amYuya Osako leads the attack for Japan, while Shinji Okazaki could be in close support just behind the frontman with Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa pushing forward. It's a very attacking lineup from Alberto Zaccheroni, who opts two defensive midfield players to sit in front of the back four with Hotaru Yamaguchi and Makoto Hasebe filling those roles. Southampton's Maya Yoshida and Masato Morishige anchor the back four, while Atsuto Uchida and Yuto Nagatomo occupy the full-back slots.

1.32amJapan are entering the tournament in good form having defeated Costa Rica and Zambia in their warm-up games. Zaccheroni's side will be looking to better their performance of 2010 when they crashed out in the second round and that quest starts against a very talented Ivory Coast team.

1.36amJapan will be looking to Keisuke Honda to fire them through the next round of the competition. He was a revelation during qualifying as he notched six goals, including a hat-trick in a 6-0 win over Jordan. The AC Milan midfielder holds the key to their success as he proved in the Asia Trophy in 2011, as Japan won the tournament and the 28-year-old was named MVP. He has the ability to guide his side into the latter stages of the tournament, let's see if he can deliver.

1.43amManchester United's Shinji Kagawa will also hope to have a good tournament after a poor season with the Red Devils. The 25-year-old failed to find his form of the 2012-13 season as he failed to find the net, but he was one of the key players in his side's run to reach the finals as he scored four times in 11 qualifying games. Kagawa looked the part in the warm-up games, but again this competition is at another level.

1.48amKeeping things tight at the back will be crucial for Zaccheroni's side and one player to watch will be Schalke defender Atsuto Uchida at right-back. He has been linked with a move to Arsenal already this summer and looked solid defensively before the tournament. It will be interesting to watch to see if can translate that form to the biggest stage.

1.55amThe players are making their way out onto the pitch and we should be underway shortly.

1 minKICKOFF! We're underway at the Arena Pernambuco.

2 minKagawa starts the game in a lively fashion as he turns inside the Ivory Coast half and drives towards goals. He then tries to find the run of Osako with a through ball, but the pass is just a fraction too quick for the striker to latch onto.

4 minThe Ivory Coast hit back with a spell of pressure of their own as Aurier finds space down the right to dig out a cross, but it goes over the head of Bony in the middle and out for a throw. Seconds after Kalou had raided into the box and saw his cross also fail to find its target.

6 minCHANCE! Les Elephants hit Japan on the counter attack after Kagawa lost the ball upfield and Gervinho raided the length of the field before sliding a pass to Bony, who saw his effort deflected wide off Yoshida.

8 minSabri Lamouchi's side are in complete control of the game at the moment as they are driving at the Japan backline, but are yet to find that final ball to really cause difficulties inside the box.

11 minToure and Tiote are pressing Kagawa every time he gets the ball in midfield and the Ivory Coast seem determined not to allow Zaccheroni's men to settle into a rhythm. A good start by Lamouchi's side.

14 minThere's definitely a gameplan afoot from the Ivory Coast not to allow Japan to pass the ball around, as Tiote clatters into Okazaki to prevent him getting upfield. The forward earns a free kick, but he felt the full force of the Newcastle United midfielder there.

16 minCHANCE! Japan win a corner down the left and Honda whips a dangerous cross to the near post. Okazaki make an excellent run and makes contact with the ball with a header, but he doesn't get enough on his effort and the ball hits Bamab, who clears the danger.

16 minGOAL! Ivory Coast 0-1 Japan (Honda)

16 minJapan take the lead as the ball comes immediately back into the box from the corner as Nagatomo finds Honda in space. The midfielder takes a touch to get the ball out of his feet and then fires an effort into the top corner, leaving Barry with no chance. A stunning strike by the Milan midfielder.

20 minCHANCE! Japan have the chance to double their lead as Yoshida wins the ball from Bony and continues his forward run. Kagawa lofts the ball to him inside the box and he heads to Honda, who in turn feed Uchida. The defender powers past the challenge of Boka and fires an effort at goal, which Barry does well to beat away.

21 minFrom the resulting corner Honda threatens the goal again as he sees Barry off his line and tries to catch him out with a looping lob, and the keeper is forced to back peddle quickly to turn the ball over the bar.

22 minCHANCE! More pressing from Zaccheroni's side as Okazaki raids down the right and manages to squeeze past Bamba. He tries to pick out Osako in the middle, but Zokora does just enough to clear the danger. That was an important tackle.

23 minYELLOW CARD! Yoshida goes into the book for Japan as he hauls down Serey Die on the edge of the area. A free kick in a dangerous position for the Ivory Coast, with Toure to take.

24 minCHANCE! Toure takes the free kick and strikes the ball well, but his effort goes just over the bar much to his own disappointment. He scored a few of those kind of free kicks for Manchester City last season and he knows he could have done better there.

27 minA really good game is developing here as Nagatomo has all sorts of space and time to drive down the left and he decides to cross early for Okazaki on the edge of the area, but the ball doesn't quite fall for the striker. Boka manages to divert the ball away and feeds Toure who in turn drives the length of the field and into the box, but he can't pick out a pass for a teammate and Morishige manages to dispossess him.

28 minToure wanted a penalty as the ball hit the hand of Morishige as he dispossessed him, but it would have been a harsh decision against the defender.

30 minBony goes down on the edge of the area this time as he gets bundled over by Hasebe and this could be another chance to Toure to threaten from 20 yards.

31 minCHANCE! Boka takes the free kick and strikes the ball with his left foot over the wall, but the ball just sails on and goes just a fraction over the bar. Kawashima was concerned there and with good reason, that was very close indeed.

33 minJapan have lost their way in the last few minutes as the Ivory Coast have come back at them after a strong spell, where they could have scored three goals. It's quite an open game and Zaccheroni may ponder pulling some of his more attacking back into their shape to prevent their opponents finding so much space in the final third.

34 minCHANCE! Bony drives forward and feed Gervinho down the right channel and he strides into the box. He tries to shoot but Morishige gets back to make the block to divert the ball out for a corner.

35 minCHANCE! Japan fail to clear their lines from the corner and Tiote fires a drive at goal, which Kawashima does well to beat away. Bony thinks he's onside to tap home the rebound, but he's flagged offside as attempted to pull the trigger.

36 minCHANCE! Straight back to the other end and Honda threatens again for Japan as he beats the challenge of Zokora and tries to fire with that vicious left foot of his again, but Bamba gets across to make the block. The ball loops up over the head of Barry but fortunately for the Ivory Coast it lands on the roof of the net.

39 minThis game continues to go from one end to the other and Aurier finds space again down the right. There's space a plenty for every player it seems today, and the right-back digs out a cross for Bony who rises highest in the area, but he can only head his effort over the bar.

43 minBoka raids down the left and Toure finds him with an inch-perfect pass and the left-back lifts a dangerous cross into the area for Kalou. The former Chelsea man manages to meet the ball unmarked with a diving header, but he gets his effort all wrong as the ball goes at least six feet wide of the goal.

44 minGreat defending by Yoshida as he manages to stop Bony from connecting with Toure's low cross into the area, after the midfielder was put through behind the defence by a lovely through ball from Gervinho. The Ivory Coast are unlucky to be behind so far.

45 minThere will be one minute of added time.

45 + 1 minHALF-TIME: Ivory Coast 0-1 Japan

2.50amJapan lead at the break in what has been a very entertaining game. Honda's strike was a thing of beauty as he fired the ball into the top corner after taking a brilliant first touch to get the ball out his feet. That clinical finish is the difference between the two sides in a game full of chances.

2.53amThe Ivory Coast have threatened but some poor finishing and some very resolute defending from the Japanese backline have kept them at bay. Bony, Kalou and Toure have all had their chances but have been unable to provide a finish to match that of Honda's and that is why they are behind. There's plenty to build on for Lamouchi's men but they must improve their play in and around the box, and they have to wary of Japan on the break.

3.02amThe players are making their way back onto the pitch and we should be back underway shortly.

46 minWe're back underway in this Group C matchup.

48 minCHANCE! Bony misses an absolute golden chance to head his level as Kalou's deflected shot bounced into his path six yards from goal, but he could only guide his effort wide of the target. These missed chances for the Ivory Coast could well cost them in this game.

50 minSHOT! Japan have the chance to threaten as Hasebe wins the ball from Serey Die deep in Les Elephants' territory. The midfielder drives into the box, but he fires his effort just wide of the post.

53 minSUBSTITUTION: Hasebe makes way for Japan and is replaced by Yasuhito Endo.

54 minYELLOW CARD! Okazaki goes down 25 yards from goal as Bamba trips the striker and earns a yellow card. A decent opportunity to threaten for Zaccheroni's side.

55 minJapan waste the chance to lift a dangerous ball into the box, as for once Honda's delivery is poor and headed clear with ease by Bony.

57 minPENALTY SHOUT! Toure picks up the ball just outside the penalty area and drives into the box and attempts to shrug off the challenge of Yoshida. The midfielder goes down in the box and keeps his balance, but then goes down again, but the referee does not point to the spot. The right decision by the referee as it appeared the 31-year-old was on his way to ground anyway.

58 minYELLOW CARD! Zokora goes into the book for dissent following the decision not to award the penalty.

60 minCHANCES! Two chances for the Ivory Coast in the space of a minute. First Bony fails to his the target again from close range as he moved across Yoshida to heat Aurier's cross at goal, but flashed his effort wide. Then, Kalou drove at the Japan defence down the left and cut back onto his right foot and his shot went agonsingly wide of the post.

62 minSUBSTITUTION: Huge cheers from the crowd as Drogba replaces Serey Die.

63 minCHANCE! Almost an immediate impact from Drogba as he raids down the right and cuts the ball back to Gervinho inside the box, but more good defending from Yoshida and Morishige prevent the former Arsenal man's shot from finding the target.

64 minGOAL! Ivory Coast 1-1 Japan (Bony)

64 minBony finally gets his goal and finds the equaliser for his side. The Ivory Coast deserve that goal and get it through another excellent cross from Aurier from the right and Bony got goalside of Yoshida at the front post and this time directed the ball into the corner of the net. Great headed finish by the Swansea City striker.

66 minGOAL! Ivory Coast 2-1 Japan (Gervinho)

66 minThe Ivory Coast take the lead and it is no more than they deserve as Gervinho squeezes the ball past Kawashima at the near post from another Aurier cross. The defender raided forward into the space again and fired a pinpoint ball into the area which the Roma forward nodded at goal and the ball slipped through the grasp of the Japan keeper, who should have done a lot better to keep the effort out. The game has turned within two minutes. What a match!

67 minSUBSTITUTION: Osako makes way for Japan and is replaced by Okubo.

70 minJapan are struggling in attack at the moment. Honda has had a couple of chances as the ball broke to him on the edge of the box twice, but he was unable to control the ball to bring it down when the chance presented itself. Very unlike Honda to miss out on those opportunities.

75 minSUBSTITUTION: Boka has gone down with an injury and is replaced by Djaka.

76 minLes Elephants have just got the measure of Honda in the second half. Every time he gets the ball several players are swarming around him to disrupt his passing game. Japan need players such as Okazaki and Kagawa to step up to get them back into the game.

78 minSUBSTITUTION: Konan Ya replaces Bony to solidify the Ivory Coast midfield.

80 minJapan are coming up against a solid line of orange as they move forward now. Their passing game doesn't have the slickness it did in the first half, as Kagawa and Honda have struggled to match the level of their performance in the first 45 minutes. There's still 10 minutes left for Japan though and they could spring a surprise on us yet.

82 minSAVE! Drogba wins a free kick 25 yards from goal and takes the free kick himself. The striker powers an effort over the wall and Kawashima does well to get across to his left to beat the ball away. Good stop by the keeper as that ball was travelling at some speed.

85 minCHANCE! Drogba has a glorious chance to seal the win for his side as Kalou tees him up inside the box, but the former Chelsea man drags his effort just wide of the post from 10 yards out.

86 minSUBSTITUTION: Kagawa goes off for Japan and is replaced by Kakitani.

87 minPENALTY SHOUT! Japan want a penalty as Endo is brought down by a high boot from Tiote inside the box, but the referee waves play on. That allows a break upfield for the Ivory Coast led by Gervinho, but gets the final ball all wrong and Nagatomo makes the interception to stop the attack.

89 minCHANCE! Japan are stretched at the back as one pass from Drogba releases Kalou down the right, and he tries an ambitious effort to squeeze an effort into the top corner which almost comes off, but Kawashima is able to palm the ball over the bar.

90 minThere will be four minutes of added time.

90 + 3 minOne last roll of the dice for Japan as they Nagatomo fires the ball long into the box, but Bamba rises highest in the area to head the ball clear and that should be that for the Ivory Coast.

90 + 5 minFULL-TIME: Ivory Coast 2-1 Japan

3.55amA great comeback from the Ivory Coast gets them off the mark in the tournament with a win. Goals from Bony and Gervinho were enough to bring Lamouchi's side back from 1-0 down as they managed to keep Japan at bay in the second half. The arrival of Drogba seemed to turn things in the favour of the Ivory Coast as they within four minute of coming on, his side had taken the lead. He provided that extra bit of impetus to their attacking play, while Aurier put in two excellent crosses for the goals to further enhance his reputation. A great start for Lamouchi and his side.

3.58amJapan will be disappointed by the level of their performance in the second half. They just didn't get going at all and their attacking threat of Honda and Kagawa were non-existant in the second 45 minutes. There are positives for Zaccheroni's side as they defended admirably for 60 minutes, but the quality from the wide areas told eventually for Les Elephants and they finally took their chances which was enough to get the victory. If Japan perform like they did in the first 45 minutes there's no reason why they can't trouble Colombia and Greece in their next two games.

4amThanks for joining our coverage today. Be sure to join us again tomorrow as we continue our coverage of the World Cup. But from me, it's goodbye.

Didier Drogba celebrates scoring for Ivory Coast against Turkey on February 11, 2009.
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Preview: Ivory Coast vs. Japan
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