Ivory Coast came back from a goal down to get their World Cup campaign off to a winning start with victory over Japan.
Keisuke Honda’s first-half strike pegged the ‘Elephants’ back, but Wilfried Bony and Gervinho finished off a 2-1 victory for Cote d’Ivoire.
The victory at Recife’s Arena Pernambuco moved Ivory Coast level on three points at the top of Group C with Colombia, who beat Greece 3-0 earlier on Saturday.
The Ivorians, despite their big-name stars, have not progressed into the knock-out stage of the World Cup. And many eye-brows were raised, following the exclusion of Didier Drogba from coach Sabri Lamouchi’s starting line-up.
Having made a huge resolution to use the lessons learned from previous editions in the ongoing tournament, the African giants’ chances surprisingly looked bleak when the Asian champions stunned them with an opening goal 16 minutes after the start.
AC Milan midfielder, Honda, collected a pass across the box, took one touch and then released a powerful shot into the top corner with his left foot.
Swansea midfielder Wilfried Bony came close to restoring parity on several occasions, but failed to capitalise on those opportunities.
Yaya Toure occasional threatened the Japanese defence, but not until the introduction of Galatasaray striker Drogba could third-timer Ivory Coast make the much-deserved break.
Bony leaped to head a fizzing Aurier cross into the far corner four minutes after the hour mark.
Two minutes later another Aurier delivery was met by AS Roma winger Gervinho, who placed his headed past the Japanese goalkeeper.
Drogba twice went close to finding the net in the closing stages, but those were not to be as Ivory Coast held on to an impressive start.