This match was critical for both sides, as only the victor would qualify for the knockout stages, together with Group B leaders Japan. Spain started brightly, coming close on several occasions and punctuating their attack with complex, well-rehearsed runs. And it was Wayo who scored early on from a direct-kick, as the goalkeeper squinted against the mid-day sun.
Côte d’Ivoire was quick to equalise, Didier Kabletchi bundling home after a corner-kick from Bassiriki Ouattara. Amarelle added a bit more sand to the back of his jersey, as he slapped a mesmerizing overhead kick just over the bar. But it was Lacine Diomande and then Ludovic Ehounou who struck next, giving the Africans the lead. Amarelle added two to draw the Spaniards level, the second an alert tap-in from close range. Goalkeeper Hamed Coulibaly did well to save direct-kicks from Nico and Amarelle, but Spain found other ways to add to the tally.
A well-choreographed series of passes led to a goal for Spain as the third period began and the action continued unabated, with both sides displaying the right combination of talent and mental fortitude that could have sent either through. But Spain were sharper and slowly began to pull away.
Spain have qualified for the quarter-finals of Dubai 2009 and will face Uruguay, while Côte d’Ivoire bid a fond farewell to Jumeirah Beach.