World Cup 2010 - Heavyweight clash fails to sparkle

Tue, 15 Jun 16:46:00 2010

Ivory Coast and Portugal drew 0-0 as the first battle of two World Cup heavyweights failed to deliver a knock-out blow in Port Elizabeth.

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Cristiano Ronaldo's long-range rocket which struck the outside of the post in the first-half was a rare moment of excitement in a hugely disappointing affair at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

Prolific marksman Didier Drogba was declared unfit to start and had a late sight of goal, following his introduction midway through the second-half, but could not hit the target as the game petered out into a draw.

Just two efforts on target in the 90 minutes was a reflection of the paucity of attacking football on display.

The one moment of quality did come early on as Ronaldo cut back inside with a cheeky flick and unleashed a 35-yard shot that hit the outside of the post with Boubacar Barry completely beaten.

Ronaldo was at the heart of the early talking points with Didier Zokora booked for a foul on the ex-Manchester United man - Ronaldo going down theatrically after minimal contact.

Ronaldo then was booked after going down cheaply under a challenge from Guy Demel. The former Arsenal youngster also booked for the confrontation in the aftermath.

Thereafter Ronaldo, who failed to score in qualifying and has not scored for Portugal for 16 months, failed to sparkle and coach Carlos Queiroz cut an increasingly agitated figure on the sidelines

Sven-Goran Eriksson's side had moments without creating clear-cut chances, a decent effort from Siaka Tiene drifted past the post, Cheik Tiote had an effort from distance and Gervinho wriggled into the penalty area before an important intervention from Paulo Ferreira.

Eriksson called up talented France-based Kouassi, better known as Gervinho, for his 17th cap as Drogba's replacement, and straight after the break his fierce drive from a tight angle was pushed away by Eduardo for a corner.

Tiote found himself unmarked from a corner but mistimed his jump before Yaya Toure squared to Salomon Kalou, but his shot from the edge of the penalty area was far too central and it was a comfortable save for Eduardo.

Gervinho, under pressure from Fabio Coentrao, failed to direct his header on target from eight yards while Kolo Toure failed to guide his header where he intended from a set-piece.

Drogba, whose position in the finals has been under constant speculation after breaking his arm on June 4, barely had a touch until injury time when he combined with fellow sub Abdulkader Keita but could only manage to hook the ball across the face of the goal on the stretch.

Portugal extended their unbeaten streak to 17 matches while Eriksson will be content with a point in his first competitive match, but both sides will need to improve if they are to make a genuine mark in the tournament.

Match Facts

Ivory Coast v Portugal

Goals 0-0

1st Half Goals 0-0

Shots on Target 2-1

Shots off Target 6-5

Blocked Shots 1-1

Corners 6-4

Fouls 17-14

Offsides 2-1

Yellow Cards 2-1

Red Cards 0-0

Passing Success 85.5%-82.9%

Tackles 15-20

Tackles Success 80%-70%

Possession 44.7%-55.3%

Territorial Advantage 56.7%-43.3%

Lee Walker / Eurosport

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