Ivorians clinch quarter-final spot
Captain Didier Drogba crossed for Chelsea team-mate Salomon Kalou to score from close range early on and Bakary Kone headed an own-goal in the closing stages to eliminate his team from the last-eight race. The other knockout place rests between Angola and Sudan, who drew 2-2 in the first half of a double-header, with the Black Antelopes holding a three-point advantage going into the final series of games Monday.
Ivorian coach Francois Zahoui cut a satisfied figure afterwards. "The important thing was to achieve our aim of winning the game," he said. We were facing a determined rival at 200 per cent after losing their first game. They presented problems but we remained calm, patient. We had to be composed in defence.
Burkina Faso's coach Paulo Duarte remarked: "We played the perfect match, a great game against a great side. We controlled the tie and we're the moral winners, but we lost on a defensive mistake and an own goal. We've played two big games but have zero points."
Côte d'Ivoire welcomed back midfield enforcer Didier Zokora after he missed the narrow win over Sudan last weekend through suspension and Igor Lolo dropped to the bench. Burkina Faso paid dearly for sloppy defending when failing against Angola and made three changes with defender Mady Panandetiguiri, midfielder Mahamoudou Kere and striker Prejuce Nakoulma promoted.
The initial drama in another match that did not come close to filling the 15,000 Estadio Neuvo de Malabo seats came in the Ivorian box with felled Jonathan Pitroipa having a penalty appeal ignored. Replays suggested the Egyptian referee made the right call.
It did not take long for the match to follow the expected trend with Côte d'Ivoire pressing and Burkina Faso defending and the deadlock was broken just 16 minutes into the opening half. Kalou created the Drogba match winner against Sudan and this time the roles were reversed with Kalou rifling a cross from his Chelsea team-mate past Daouda Diakite.
Realising a defeat would mean a fifth consecutive first-round exit from the biennial African football showcase, the Burkinabe Stallions attacked from the start of the second half and put the Ivorian Elephants under pressure.
The Ivorians countered with Gervinho wasting a good chance off a Jean-Jacques Gosso cross and the Arsenal striker had a close-range shot pushed away by Diakite after the raid in which Kalou pulled up injured and had to be substituted.
The seesaw struggle continued with Burkina Faso striker Moumouni Dagano out-jumping Souleymane Bamba at the far post only for his header to rattle the woodwork and fly over. Kone sealed the fate of the Burkinabe eight minutes from full-time when his looping back-header off a free-kick flew over Diakite and into the corner of the net.