Despite going behind twice, Côte d'Ivoire came back to beat Denmark 4-2 behind an outstanding four-goal show put on by Souleymane Coulibaly. The silky-skilled forward had a hat-trick by half-time and put the match out of reach in the second period with a top-drawer individual effort. The win at Estadio Guadalajara moves the Africans into second in Group F, with a good chance of reaching the Round of 16, while Denmark need to make up serious ground in the last round of matches.
Coulibaly scored in the Baby Elephants 2-1 loss to Australia to open the FIFA U-17 World Cup, and his five goals now lead the tournament. Kenneth Zohore and Viktor Fischer gave the Danes their first goals of the event - they lost 3-0 to Brazil to start - but their defence had no solution to Coulibaly and the fine movement of the Ivorians.
The green-clad side started off the match quickest, with winger Lionel Lago very nearly opening the scoring in the sixth minute after his curling shot from the left flank came off of the angle of the crossbar and post. A few minutes later the Africans were unfortunate to go behind as Danny Amankwa fought well for the ball before Zohore’s shot took a deflection past the stranded goalkeeper.
Coulibaly, who looked dangerous from the opening whistle, dragged his team level with an impressive goal. He drove a defender down the left side before beating him along the endline, and his shot from the tightest of angles fooled the goalkeeper. The youngster continued to boss the match, but again it was the Danes who went ahead when Fischer finished off a nifty one-two with Lucas Andersen.
But Coulibaly settled his team's nerves with a poacher’s effort to equalise after he was first to pounce on a rebound in the 37th minute. Three minutes later, he again showed quickness to get onto a free ball in the box, and after he was brought down by Danish goalkeeper Oliver Korch, the youngster completed his first-half hat-trick from the penalty spot in the 40th minute.
In the second half, the two teams continued to play open football, with Coulibaly forcing a good save from Korch and Jean Kouassi hitting the bar, but again it was Coulibaly who found the breakthrough in the 69th minute. The Siena striker waltzed through the Danish defence before sizing up the goalkeeper and beating him with a curling shot inside his left post.
In the dying minutes, Coulibaly came off to a standing ovation after a breakout performance. Côte d'Ivoire take on Brazil next in Guadalajara with a chance to top the group, and Denmark need to beat Australia in Queretaro to hope to escape into the next round.