Drogba inspires Ivory Coast past Japan

Serge Aurier of the Ivory Coast challenges Giorgos Samaras of Greece.
Serge Aurier of the Ivory Coast challenges Giorgos Samaras of Greece.
Ivory Coast's Wilfried Bony scores against Greece.
Ivory Coast's Wilfried Bony scores against Greece.
A general view of action as Giorgos Karagounis of Greece takes a free kick during the Group C match against the Ivory Coast.
A general view of action as Giorgos Karagounis of Greece takes a free kick during the Group C match against the Ivory Coast.
Greece celebrate after defeating the Ivory Coast 2-1.
Greece celebrate after defeating the Ivory Coast 2-1.
Greece's Giorgios Samaras consoles Ivory Coast's Boubacar Barry, after he scored a penalty past Barry.
Greece's Giorgios Samaras consoles Ivory Coast's Boubacar Barry, after he scored a penalty past Barry.
Greece's Giorgios Samaras goes down in the challenge of Ivory Coast's Giovanni Sio to win a penalty.
Greece's Giorgios Samaras goes down in the challenge of Ivory Coast's Giovanni Sio to win a penalty.
Colombia's goalkeeper David Ospina stops an attempt at goal as Japan's Yoshito Okubo jumps against Pablo Armero.
Colombia's goalkeeper David Ospina stops an attempt at goal as Japan's Yoshito Okubo jumps against Pablo Armero.
Yoshito Okubo of Japan and Eder Alvarez Balanta of Colombia.
Yoshito Okubo of Japan and Eder Alvarez Balanta of Colombia.
Colombia's Santiago Arias (R) fights for the ball with Japan's Shinji Kagawa
Colombia's Santiago Arias (R) fights for the ball with Japan's Shinji Kagawa
Japan's Keisuke Honda reacts after Colombia scored their fourth goal.
Japan's Keisuke Honda reacts after Colombia scored their fourth goal.
Colombia's James Rodriguez scores their fourth goal against Japan.
Colombia's James Rodriguez scores their fourth goal against Japan.
Japan's Yoshito Okubo tries to score past Colombia's Carlos Valdes.
Japan's Yoshito Okubo tries to score past Colombia's Carlos Valdes.
Japan's Yoshito Okubo reacts after missing a chance to score a goal during their Group C match against Greece.
Japan's Yoshito Okubo reacts after missing a chance to score a goal during their Group C match against Greece.
Greece's Vasilis Torosidis heads the ball against Japan.
Greece's Vasilis Torosidis heads the ball against Japan.
Fans arrive before the Group C match between Japan and Greece.
Fans arrive before the Group C match between Japan and Greece.
Greece's Giorgios Samaras commits a foul against Japan's Atsuto Uchida.
Greece's Giorgios Samaras commits a foul against Japan's Atsuto Uchida.
Yoshito Okubo of Japan is challenged by Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Greece
Yoshito Okubo of Japan is challenged by Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Greece
Eiji Kawashima of Japan punches clear during the 2Group C match between Japan and Greece.
Eiji Kawashima of Japan punches clear during the 2Group C match between Japan and Greece.
Colombia's Juan Quintero scores his team's second goal past Ivory Coast's goalkeeper Boubacar Barry.
Colombia's Juan Quintero scores his team's second goal past Ivory Coast's goalkeeper Boubacar Barry.
Referee Howard Webb of England sprays vanishing spray on the pitch during the Group C match between Colombia and Ivory Coast.
Referee Howard Webb of England sprays vanishing spray on the pitch during the Group C match between Colombia and Ivory Coast.
Colombia fans celebrate Juan Quintero's goal during the Group C match between Colombia and Ivory Coast.
Colombia fans celebrate Juan Quintero's goal during the Group C match between Colombia and Ivory Coast.
Colombia's Cristian Zapata watches as Ivory Coast's Wilfried Bony jumps.
Colombia's Cristian Zapata watches as Ivory Coast's Wilfried Bony jumps.
Ivory Coast's Serge Aurier runs towards a big ball during the Group C match between Colombia and Ivory Coast.
Ivory Coast's Serge Aurier runs towards a big ball during the Group C match between Colombia and Ivory Coast.
Teo Gutierrez high-fives team-mates after Juan Quintero made it 2-0 in the 70th minute against Ivory Coast.
Teo Gutierrez high-fives team-mates after Juan Quintero made it 2-0 in the 70th minute against Ivory Coast.
Yuto Nagatomo of Japan tackles Gervinho of the Ivory Coast during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between the Ivory Coast and Japan
Yuto Nagatomo of Japan tackles Gervinho of the Ivory Coast during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between the Ivory Coast and Japan
Keisuke Honda of Japan (2nd L) celebrates scoring the team's first goal with teammates during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between the Ivory Coast and Japan
Keisuke Honda of Japan (2nd L) celebrates scoring the team's first goal with teammates during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between the Ivory Coast and Japan
Supporters of Japan cheer during their 2014 World Cup Group C soccer match against Ivory Coast.
Supporters of Japan cheer during their 2014 World Cup Group C soccer match against Ivory Coast.
Maya Yoshida of Japan tackles Yaya Toure of the Ivory Coast.
Maya Yoshida of Japan tackles Yaya Toure of the Ivory Coast.
The Ivory Coast celebrate their second goal scored by Gervinho during the Group C match between the Ivory Coast and Japan.
The Ivory Coast celebrate their second goal scored by Gervinho during the Group C match between the Ivory Coast and Japan.
Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast controls the ball against Keisuke Honda of Japan during their Group C match.
Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast controls the ball against Keisuke Honda of Japan during their Group C match.
Teo Gutierrez celebrates Colombia's second goal in a 3-0 rout of Greece in Belo Horizonte.
Teo Gutierrez celebrates Colombia's second goal in a 3-0 rout of Greece in Belo Horizonte.
James Rodriguez (bottom) celebrates Colombia's third goal against Greece.
James Rodriguez (bottom) celebrates Colombia's third goal against Greece.
Greece's Panagiotis Kone reacts after missing an open shot.
Greece's Panagiotis Kone reacts after missing an open shot.
Greece goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis watches as Colombia's first goal rolls across the line.
Greece goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis watches as Colombia's first goal rolls across the line.
Colombia players dance in unison after their first goal in Belo Horizonte.
Colombia players dance in unison after their first goal in Belo Horizonte.
Greece's Giorgos Samaras holds the ball as Colombia's Juan Camilo Zuniga hassles him.
Greece's Giorgos Samaras holds the ball as Colombia's Juan Camilo Zuniga hassles him.

Two quickfire headed goals from Wilfried Bony and Gervinho helped Ivory Coast recover to beat Japan 2-1 today as their bid for a first appearance in the World Cup knockout stages got off to a fine start.

The African side trailed to a stunning Keisuke Honda strike in the first half, but the introduction of striker Didier Drogba off the bench proved the catalyst to turn the match on its head after the restart as they scored twice in three minutes.

The victory at the Pernambuco arena moved the Ivorians level on three points at the top of Group C with Colombia, who beat Greece 3-0 earlier today.

With coaches so often judged on their ability to make brave decisions, Ivory Coast's Sabri Lamouchi put his neck on the line by leaving out Drogba, for so long a talismanic presence in the lineup, in favour of the in-form Bony.

It looked a poor call as Japan had the better of the first half.

They were sharp and nimble in possession, working clever angles as they picked off their opponents' frequently misplaced passes and took the lead with a goal of genuine quality from Honda after 16 minutes.

Collecting a pass across the box, he took one touch to shift it out of his feet and then drove it powerfully into the top corner with his left foot, before galloping away in celebration as blue hordes of Japanese fans celebrated deliriously.

The Elephants had their moments, with midfielder Yaya Toure showing occasional glimpses of his destructive powers, shifting through the gears with trademark bursts of raw energy.

Yet there was little killer instinct as half chances came and went, with Drogba prowling on the sidelines before entering the fray after 62 minutes.

The change had the desired impact on the Ivory Coast who levelled two minutes later when Bony leapt to glance a fizzing Serge Aurier cross into the far corner.

Two minutes later and another drilled Aurier centre was met this time by Gervinho who got in front of his marker to direct a header on goal that squirmed past Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima, who should have done better.

Reuters