Ivory Coast recorded the most convincing victory of the 2014 World Cup African playoff on Saturday when Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and an own goal from Lamine Sane inspired coach Sabri Lamouchi’s men to a 3-1 victory over Senegal at the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny.
Newcastle of England striker Pappiss Cisse grabbed a last minute equaliser for the Teranga Lions, but the hosts look to have stamped their feet on the contest ahead of the return leg which will be played on a neutral ground in Casablanca, Morocco.
Coach Lamouchi opted for a stellar lineup of Europe-based footballers and the ‘Elephants’ got off well against their opponents, who were looking to exact some revenge following their exit in the preliminary rounds of the 2013 Afcon to the same side.
Roma forward Gervinho won a penalty in the fifth minute of the first-half, after been brought down by Cheikhou Kouyate in the area and Drogba stepped up to convert from six yards.
The hosts, who are gunning for their third successive World Cup appearance since debuting in Germany seven years ago, doubled their lead nine minutes later when Sane put a Gervinho’s cross into his own net.
Ivory Coast dominated most of the opening period and Yaya Toure missed an opportunity to increase the tally when his effort from close range missed the target.
Senegal came back from the interval looking to overturn a two-goal lead, but Ivory Coast soon placed the game far beyond the visitors’ reach as Kalou kept his composure after Gervinho had played him through on goal and then tucked the ball past goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul.
The hosts then retreated into their own half, occasionally going forward to carve open the Senegal’s defence.
Second-half substitute Giovanni Sio came close to making it 4-0 for the Ivoirians while Cisse pressed for a consolation for the visitors.
The Senegalese striker got his solitary strike when Bamba attempted to clear the ball and it dropped to Cisse, who scored with almost the last kick of the pproceedings.