Ivory Coast and Tunisia win through late goals
By Tales Azzoni ,APRUSTENBURG, South Africa -- The toughest group at the African Cup of Nations delivered two thrilling finishes on Tuesday, adding some excitement to a tournament which had produced five draws in the first six matches.
January 24, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
Ivory Coast needed a late goal to beat scrappy Togo 2-1 to open Group D, while Tunisia produced a remarkable injury-time winner to edge North African rival Algeria 1-0 in the later match in Rustenburg.
The day marking the end of the first round of games also saw the African confederation fine Ethiopia's federation US$10,000 after fans threw vuvuzelas onto the pitch during the team's 1-1 draw against defending champion Zambia on Monday.
There was also disappointing news for the home fans as South Africa lost two midfielders because of injury ahead of the crucial Group A match against Angola on Wednesday.
Ivory Coast struggled against Togo but scraped a victory thanks to Gervinho's 88th-minute goal following a long cross by Yaya Toure, who had opened the scoring less than 10 minutes into the match at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium. Jonathan Ayite equalized just before halftime.
Togo nearly equalized again in the fourth and final minute of added time, but Floyd Ayite's diving header from close range drew a great save from Ivory Coast goalkeeper Boubacar Barry.
After the match, Togo coach Didier Six walked out of the post-match news conference after saying just a few words, apparently upset because of a 60th-minute Togo goal disallowed because the referee had yet to authorize the corner kick that led to a well-placed header by defender Dare Nibombe. Six was visibly distraught at the time the goal was disallowed, gesturing at the officials.
Ivory Coast, trying to rebound from a loss to Zambia in last year's final, is favorite to win its first title in more than 20 years thanks to a star-filled team led by Didier Drogba, who was largely ineffective before being substituted in the 74th minute on Tuesday.
The second match of the day in Rustenburg looked set to become the sixth draw in the first eight matches of the tournament, only for Youssef Msakni to score a spectacular goal in the first minute of stoppage time to give Tunisia a dramatic win over Algeria.