Salomon Kalou's early goal helped Ivory Coast book their spot in the African
Nations Cup quarter-finals and consign opponents Burkina Faso to an early exit.
The Chelsea striker opened the scoring after 16 minutes and a late own goal
from Bakary Kone sealed the victory as the tournament favourites, having beaten
Sudan in their opening match, guaranteed themselves a top-two finish in Group
Today's loss signals the end of Burkina Faso's hopes, as they remain rooted to
the foot of the standings having also lost 2-1 to Angola.
Burkina Faso had their chances in a entertaining encounter in Malabo, with Beli
Moumouni Dagano hitting the crossbar late on and Alain Traore a regular threat
with his long-range thunderbolts, but Ivory Coast also had a raft of
opportunities and they will hope their finishing improves in the latter rounds
as they seek only their second Nations Cup title.
Burkina Faso felt they should have been awarded a sixth-minute penalty when
Jonathan Pitroipa went down in the area following a challenge from Souleymane
Bamba, but that was waved away and 10 minutes later they found themselves
Didier Drogba sent over a cross from near the right corner flag which, after
Yaya Toure had just failed to collect, found its way through to Kalou in the
middle and he drilled home a sweetly-struck left-footed strike past Daouda
Ivory Coast would have hoped that was the start of a comfortable night's work,
but Burkina Faso proved no easy opponents and Traore twice went close with
efforts from the edge of the box as they sought an equaliser.
Ivory Coast almost doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time when Diakite
did well to deny Drogba and Gervinho in quick succession, although the Arsenal
man's effort would not have counted anyway due to offside.
Gervinho spurned a decent opening to increase his side's advantage at the start
of the second half, before the left-footed Traore saw two good efforts saved by
Gervinho blazed an even better opportunity over when unmarked six yards out in
the 60th minute and soon after he produced a good parry out of Diakite after
bending a shot around a defender.
Kalou helped set Gervinho up for that chance but the Chelsea man suffered what
appeared to be a hamstring injury in the build-up and he was replaced by Max
Gradel soon after.
Ivory Coast survived a huge let-off in the 72nd minute when Dagano got on the
end of a superb deep cross from Charles Kabore before powering a header
goalward, but fortunately for the Elephants the ball smashed against the
crossbar and went over.
Dagano then saw another header comfortably saved by Barry before Ivory Coast
sealed the win with an own goal in the 82nd minute.
Arthur Boka launched a long ball forward into the Burkina Faso area and, as
team-mates Kone and Mamadou Tall challenged for the ball without an Ivory Coast
player involved, the former succeeded only in sending a looping header over
Diakite and into his own net.