Fri, Jun 23, 2006 - Page 24 News List

World Cup: Ivory Coast sign off in thrilling style with three goals


Ivory Coast players celebrate a goal by Aruna Dindane, center, during the Group C match against Serbia and Montenegro in Munich on Wednesday.


Group C

Ivory Coast 3, Serbia and Mont. 2Ivory Coast players were dancing in joy on Wednesday as they notched up their first-ever World Cup victory, beating Serbia and Montenegro 3-2.

But boss Michel Henri cursed the defensive errors they made throughout the tournament that cost them a place in the last 16. He said: "Conceding six goals in three games is two much. The team has to improve on that to become a really great side capable of progressing."

The Ivory Coast win leaves Serbia and Montenegro bottom of Group C and without a point but their coach Ilija Petkovic refused to be too despondent, praising the African tournament debutants.

He said: "Despite this World Cup I am proud of my team. We wanted to show today what we didn't show in our previous games."

The Ivorians got their stroke of luck when Serbia and Montenegro went down to 10 men just before half-time when referee Marco Rodriguez sent off Albert Nadj.

But by the time of the red card they were already 2-1 down thanks to goals from Nikola Zigic and Sasa Ilic and a solitary response from Aruna Dindane.

They took advantage by equalizing through Dindane. Bonaventure Kalou scored a late winner and not even Cyril Doromaud's dismissal could dampen the celebrations.

Ivory Coast made the early running in the first ever fixture between these sides with Arthur Boka firing a free-kick into the wall but it was Serbia and Montenegro who broke through on 12 minutes.

Coach Petkovic had opted for a 4-5-1 formation with giant striker Nikola Zigic up front on his own. And it was the 202cm striker who who found the net on 10 minutes.

The towering center-forward ran on to Dejan Stankovic's long pass, rounding Ivory Coast keeper Boubacar Barry with his first touch and scoring with his second.

Serbia and Montenegro's first goal was quickly followed by their second on 20 minutes. Pedrag Djordevic's free-kick hit Domoraud and ran to Sasa Ilic who smashed the loose ball into the net.

On 35 minutes Ivory Coast were back in it when Milan Dudic handled Arthur Boka's cross and Dindane sent the keeper the wrong way. The referee spotted an encroachment and ordered a re-take; Dindane rattled in the second kick.

Serbia and Montenegro were almost pegged back to 2-2 when a spectacular drive by Kouassi smacked the crossbar on the hour.

But seven minutes later Dindane went one better scoring his and Ivory Coast's second of the game. The Lens player got on the end of Keita's cross to level the scores.

Dindane could have had a hat-trick when Milan Dudic again handled in the box but the forward let Bonaventure Kalou, whose shot had been blocked by the handball, score the penalty to seal the Africans' first-ever World Cup win.

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