Thu, Feb 10, 2011 - Page 18 News List

Drogba returns to action for Ivory Coast

GOOD START:Ghana, which is Africa’s top-ranked team, beat Togo 4-1 in a friendly in Antwerp, Belgium, giving Serbian coach Goran Stevanovic a winning start in the job

AP, LONDON

Damien Duff of Ireland, left, holds off a challenge from David Vaughan of Wales -during their Nations Cup soccer match at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Tuesday.

Photo: Reuters

Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba enjoyed a winning return to international soccer against Mali on Tuesday in his first match since last year’s World Cup.

The Chelsea forward helped to create Didier Ya Konan’s first international goal, which secured a 1-0 victory in the friendly in Valence, France.

Drogba chested down a long ball into the path of Lille striker Gervinho, whose cross from the right was slammed high into the net by Ya Konan after three minutes.

Africa’s top-ranked team, Ghana, beat Togo 4-1 in a friendly in Antwerp, Belgium, giving Serbian coach Goran Stevanovic a winning start in the job.

Striker Dominic Adiyiah gave Ghana a 1-0 lead at halftime and after Togo equalized with a penalty three minutes into the second half, Jonathan Mensah, an own goal from Togo defender Akpakpo, and a late strike from Samuel Inkoom sealed the win.

Tuesday also marked the start of two friendly tournaments each featuring four European countries.

Darron Gibson, Damien Duff and Keith Fahey scored in the second half to give Ireland a 3-0 victory over Wales in a competition featuring the British Isles nations — minus England. It was Gary Speed’s first match in charge of Wales since being hired in December.

Scotland was to play Northern Ireland yesterday and the trophy will be decided by further matches in May.

In the Cyprus tournament, the hosts lost 2-0 to Sweden and Ukraine beat Romania 4-2 in a penalty shootout on the east Mediterranean island.

Tobias Hysen put Sweden in front in the 26th when he headed in a curling Martin Olsson cross at Nicosia’s GSP stadium. An unmarked Markus Berg added the second on the stroke of halftime when he latched onto a through ball from Pontus Wernblom from 10m.

In Paralimni, two saves by veteran goalkeeper Oleksandr Shovkovskiy in the shootout secured the victory for Euro 2012 co-hosts Ukraine after the match ended 2-2.

Yaroslav Rakitskiy and Artem Milevskiy had given Ukraine a 2-0 lead, but Romania drew level before halftime thanks to goals from striker Dan Alexa.

Yesterday, Sweden and Ukraine were to met in Nicosia and Cyprus was to take on Romania in Paralimni.

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