Elephants Trample Serbia-Montenegro Ivory Coast Wins First Ever World Cup Match
In a game that meant nothing, Ivory Coast beat Serbia-Montenegro 3-2 on Wednesday. Both teams had been eliminated earlier in group play.
Aruna Dindane celebrates in the rain in Munich.
Bolstered by a four-strong strike force in the second half, the Elephants left the World Cup with their first ever points in the tournament while the Serbs ended with none. Both teams ended the match with 10 men.
It was at least a spirited performance by Serbia and Montenegro following their 6-0 drubbing by Argentina which will mean that coach Ilija Petkovic will lose his job when the team gets home.
After being reduced to ten men in the first-half, the team from the Balkans battled to retain their 2-1 half time lead against the African Nations Cup finalists, owing their tenuous hold on the lead to goalkeeper Dragoslav Jevric's outstretched foot and the woodwork.
Despite being eliminated from the World Cup, both heavily-changed teams played aggressive football from the start before a capacity, rain-soaked crowd of 66,000 in a bid to restore their pride. Although Ivory Coast had the best of the play in the first 10 minutes, their trio of newcomers at the back were caught out by long, high balls from Serbia and Montenegro.
Inter Milan midfielder Dejan Stankovic's looping high pass from the halfway line in the 10th minute found the tall figure of lone striker Nikola Zigic, who easily shrugged off Blaise Kouassi and the Elephants' goalkeeper Boubacar Barry to put the ball in the net.
Ten minutes later, goalkeeper Dragolav Jevric's outstretched foot saved Serbia and Montenegro from a close range effort by Kader Keita, but despite being stranded the Serbian goalkeeper was relieved to see Aruna Dindane's header miss an empty net.
The Serbs extended their lead immediately. The Elephants veteran captain Cyrille Domoraud managed to stop Zigic from reaching the long pass, but he unfortunately side-footed the ball across the goalmouth to Sasa Ilic, who pounced on the error to score the Serbs' second.
Ivory Coast deservedly pulled one back with a penalty through Dindane after Milan Dudic blatantly touched a high cross with his hand before it fell to the unmarked Arouna Kone.
Serbia and Montenegro's fortunes plummeted even further when shortly before the half time whistle, substitute Albert Nadj, who had come on for the injured Mladen Krstajic playing his last match for the national side, received his second yellow card for a sliding tackle from behind.
Ivory Coast coach Henri Michel took full advantage and -- in what is likely to be his last match in charge -- he threw two more strikers into his line up during the second half as the Elephants charged forward, creating havoc for Serbia and Montenegro.
After hitting the woodwork, and being deprived by Jevric's foot again, Dindane finally broke through in the 67th minute, heading down past Jevric to bring the two sides level.
The Elephants finally took the lead through a penalty -- awarded for yet another handball -- by substitute Bonaventure Kalou in the 86th minute. By the time Domoraud was sent-off in injury time, it was too late for the Serbs.