Doumbia spares blushes of 10-man Ivory Coast
21 January 2015, 08:37
Malabo - Ten-man Ivory Coast were held to a 1-1 draw by underdogs Guinea with Seydou Doumbia's equaliser sparing their blushes in their opening Group D match at the African Nations Cup on Tuesday.
Mohamed Yattara's first-half opener in an entertaining match had threatened a shock until Doumbia's 73rd minute leveller.
The Guineans might rue a missed chance to stun their more heralded rivals, but the result will have further boosted their confidence after they defied the odds to qualify for tournament.
Ivory Coast had forward Gervinho sent off for striking an opponent shortly before the hour mark.
Mali and Cameroon also drew 1-1 later on Tuesday to leave the group wide open.
"Guinea performed well in the elimination stage, with a 0-0 against Ghana and then winning against Togo 4-1, so I don't think it's a team to underestimate," Ivory Coast coach Herve Renard told reporters.
"I think that after the draw, we have two matches for us to qualify, so nothing is lost."
Ivory Coast's three-pronged attack featuring Gervinho, Salomon Kalou and Wilfried Bony struggled in the first half against a well-organised Guniea defence marshalled by centre back Florentin Pogba, brother of France midfielder Paul.
The tireless Gervinho nearly opened the scoring after one raid in the 17th minute but Guinea keeper Naby Yattara tipped his close-range effort against the crossbar.
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Taking every opportunity to break forward, the Guineans delighted their fans in the Estadio de Malabo when Yattara blasted an unstoppable shot on the turn into the roof of the net after a mistake by an Ivorian defender.
Bony, who signed for English champions Manchester City earlier this month, came close with a rasping half-volley from 20 metres shortly after the break.
When Gervinho was shown a red card for an off-the-ball slap it fired up the Guinea side and they almost doubled their lead when Ibrahima Traore curled a shot against the crossbar.
They paid a heavy price for that ill fortune when midfield powerhouse Yaya Toure found his soon-to-be team mate Bony with a defence-splitting pass and the burly striker laid it on perfectly for Doumbia to sidefoot home the equaliser.
Guinea captain Ibrahima Traore had mixed feelings about the result. "We feel disappointed because we had a good match and we let it slip away at the time when we were in control and we had an extra player. Now it's not a bad result for us because it allows us to go forward."