World Cup: Ivory Coast vs. Portugal (Matchday Commentary)

World Cup: Ivory Coast vs. Portugal (Matchday Commentary)

World Cup 2010

World Cup: Ivory Coast vs. Portugal (Matchday Commentary)

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Cote_dIvoire_Logo PortugalLogo

By AVI CREDITOR

The storylines in Group G are some of the World Cup's best. Will Brazil regret leaving Ronaldinho and Alexandre Pato off the roster, or does it have enough firepower to win a sixth World Cup? How well can Didier Drogba play with a broken arm? Can North Korea score any points? Can Cristiano Ronaldo lead Portugal to new heights? Who will advance from the Group of Death?

Those questions will begin to be answered as the Ivory Coast and Portugal meet at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth, South Africa (10 a.m., ESPN/ESPN3.com).

FIFA has cleared Drogba to play with a protective cast on his right arm, but he'll start on the bench for Sven-Goran Eriksson's side, which likely needs its captain to be effective to have a shot at reaching the knockout stage.

Portugal is hoping to improve on its run to the semifinals in 2006, and it will need Ronaldo to be at his best to get out of this treacherous group. The Real Madrid star has come under heavy criticism for not scoring enough on the international level, but a strong showing against The Elephants would put those comments to rest.

I'll be providing live commentary for the match, so feel free to follow along and share any thoughts and opinions in the comments section below. Enjoy the match!

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POSTGAME – That's all for me. Just another reminder that Ives will be hosting a live Q&A at 12:30, so get your World Cup, South Africa and U.S. men's national team questions ready. Thanks for following along, and enjoy the rest of your day!

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POSTGAME – Each nation earns a point with games against Brazil and North Korea on the horizon. Look for both teams to try and pour it on the Koreans, as who advances from the group may easily come down to goal differential.

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POSTGAME – Portugal 0, Ivory Coast 0. A disappointing match by all accounts, though action picked up a bit in the second half. Ronaldo had the game's best chance with his early, long-range shot, but the post denied him a wonderstrike.

Drogba had little impact in his 25-minute shift, though had he converted that late opportunity he'd be the talking point all around the world.

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90th Minute – What? A short corner? Really? There's the final whistle as the Ivory Coast bails on a chance to steal three points.

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90th Minute – Ivory Coast with some late chances. Corner kick at the death, on the way.

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90th Minute – DROGBA HAD A CHANCE! Did he really try to cross into space? He had a short-range shot chance but didn't take it well. He fell on his unbroken arm. What a moment that could've been.

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90th Minute – Three added minutes.

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90th Minute – Amarim fires over the bar as stoppage time approaches.

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89th Minute – Not even close on the corner. After a lot of hype for the Group of Death matches, this has turned out to be an exhibition on passing in the middle third.

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88th Minute – Nice looking build-up for Portugal, earns a late corner.

Romaric is on for Emmanuel Eboue.

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86th Minute – Tonight's injury time will be sponsored by Kolo Toure.

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85th Minute – Promising counterattack falls apart for the Ivory Coast.

Ruben Amorim is on for Meireles.

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82nd Minute – Zokora challenges Liedson from behind, whistled for the foul. He's got to be careful, he's already got a yellow.

Kader Keita is on for Gervinho. Pretty nice night for Gervinho, wonder why he's coming off.

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80th Minute – That scene was eerily close to the Nike commercial. Ronaldo lines up for the free kick, rain falling, stoic face. Shot went begging though. Ronal…DOH!

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80th Minute – Ronaldo on the ground? Never!

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78th Minute – Meireles with a strong shot from 25 yards, but its hooked to the left. Toure back on for the Ivory Coast.

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78th Minute – Kolo Toure's down with a cramp. Stoppage time just got a little bit longer.

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77th Minute – Demel works hard to push forward, but he loses it off the end line for a goal kick. Been a while since the Ivorians had anything resembling a threat on goal.

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74th Minute – Liedson goes up for a bicycle kick but is whistled for a high kick, as Zokora's arm got the worst end of that.

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72nd Minute – Ronaldo takes a tumble with minimal contact. The wind in Port Elizabeth could knock him down at this point.

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71st Minute – Portugal with back-to-back corners.

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69th Minute – Drogba with his first touches. No instant impact just yet for the face of African soccer.

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68th Minute – Portugal is in attack mode, but the passing is too fancy and intricate and not accurate enough.

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66th Minute – Yaya Toure has a go from long range, but his low shot is well left.

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65th Minute – Here comes Drogba. If Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium had a roof, the applause (and vuvuzelas) would have blown it off. Drogba replaces Chelsea teammate Salomon Kalou.

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63rd Minute – Ronaldo with some fancy footwork on the right side, but his cross is defended well. It's been a quiet 50 minutes or so for one of the world's top players. Advantage, Messi.

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62nd Minute – Another thoughball weighted just too heavily by Dindane. Gervinho would've been through on goal.

Tiago replaces Deco as Queiroz looks for a winning formula.

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59th Minute – Great ball in by Tiote with Gervinho in position on the doorstep. Airmailed the header though.

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58th Minute – Gervinho earns a corner. It took almost an hour, but we've got some end-to-end action.

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58th Minute – SAVE BARRY! Deco chips in a cross that Liedson heads on frame, but Barry leaps to keep Portugal off the board.

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57th Minute – Kalou goes down just outside the area, but no whistle, and Portugal is on the counter.

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55th Minute – Simao comes in for Danny. That's a no-brainer of a move.

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54th Minute – Was that a shot on goal? Kalou's attempt easily saved by Eduardo.

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53rd Minute – Gervinho loses control inside the box, ending a threatening piece of play.

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52nd Minute – If an aging Deco is Portugal's most threatening attacking player, then Carlos Queiroz' side is in trouble.

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51st Minute – Great looking free kick from Deco, but Liedson flicked it off the end line in tons of traffic.

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51st Minute – Tiene with a harsh challenge from behind on Liedson. Card-worthy, but only draws a warning.

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48th Minute – Dindane with a nice ball from the right, but Kalou stunted his run and threw off the timing. Gervinho started the attack and has been the most impressive of the Ivory Coast attacking players thus far.

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47th Minute – Another open header from Les Elephants off a corner, but Tiote misfires. Portugal can't get away with shoddy corner marking forever.

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47th Minute – Gervinho gets on to a long ball on the left and sends a laser of a cross that Eduardo tips out for a corner.

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46th Minute – Will we see some attacking soccer? The next 45 minutes holds the answer.

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HALFTIME – Will Sven unleash Drogba? Or is clearing him to play just a psychological ploy to intimidate the opposition? Remember, he did break his arm less than two weeks ago. And when he falls, he has to brace himself with something.

You'd think Simao would get a chance to spice things up for Portugal sooner rather than later.

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HALFTIME – Referee Jorge Larrionda was the most involved man on the pitch in the first half. Not a good sign.

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HALFTIME – If you want some excitement, stay tuned to SBI. Ives will be fielding your questions during a live Q&A session starting at 12:30 p.m. (EST).

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HALFTIME – Awfully disappointing first half. The Portuguese lacked any inspiration aside from the first few minutes. Truthfully, they looked more spirited during the national anthem.

The Ivory Coast has tried to attack on the flanks, but Portugal's defense has held strong and made Eduardo's job in net quite easy.

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45th Minute – Slow, patient passing at midfield ends the half, as Portugal and the Ivory Coast go into their locker rooms in a scoreless deadlock.

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45th Minute – One minute of added time.

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43rd Minute – Kolo Toure was unmarked, but his jump wasn't quite high enough. Lucky break for Portugal.

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42nd Minute – Ivory Coast with a corner. A goal here would grab a ton of momentum heading into halftime.

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41st Minute – Surprised at the lack of real opportunities. Both teams have defended their areas well though.

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38th Minute – Yaya Toure almost finds Eboue with a great through ball in the area, but its weighted a bit too heavily.

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37th Minute – Ronaldo's gone silent since controlling the early going. Portugal can't win that way.

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36th Minute – Coentrao gets the better of Dindane in Portugal's left corner. Very good defending there.

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35th Minute – Through ball just out of Liedson's reach.

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33rd Minute – Barry comes out to snatch Deco's pass away from Danny.

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32nd Minute – Pace slow as the Ivory Coast looks to build up an attack.

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31st Minute – Tiene with a lofting ball that Eduardo handles with ease. Ivory Coast will need a bit more creativity to get on the scoreboard.

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29th Minute – Eboue goes down after a studs up challenge on the lower leg by Pedro Mendes. No foul called. How'd the referee miss that one?

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28th Minute – Deco read the designed play off the corner and Portugal clears.

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27th Minute – Gervinho earns a corner. Drogba's replacement has created some problems for Portugal early on.

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26th Minute – Even match thus far. Referee has been part of too much of the action though.

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25th Minute – Does Meireles have any room left for more tattoos? Soft foul call on him.

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23rd Minute – Gervinho gets through two defenders in the box, but Ferreira's able to provide some cover.

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21st Minute – Wonder if that'll be a costly early yellow card for Ronaldo. He'll have to tone it down a bit, and he usually only knows one speed.

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20th Minute – Ronaldo looks for another foul, and the Ivory Coast defenders are taking exception. This is the part of Ronaldo's game that most fans could do without, and the referee gives him a yellow, likely for the jibber jabber with the defenders. That actually did look like a foul.

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16th Minute – Tiote with a nice attempt from outside of the box. Portugal's been controlling the bulk of the possession, but the Ivory Coast is forcing turnovers in the middle of the pitch and pouncing on counterattack opportunities.

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14th Minute – Tiene's shot goes wide right by a few feet. Blame Jabulani.

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14th Minute – Bruno Alves shoves Gervinho, and now the Ivory Coast will have a chance to get on the board with a free kick from a makeable distance.

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13th Minute – Ronaldo turns it over, and Ivory Coast is on the counter.

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12th Minute – Good lord what a strike. From about 30-35 yards no less.

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11th Minute – Ronaldo off the post from distance!!! WHAT A SHOT! He created space for himself and was an inch away from the goal of the tournament.

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10th Minute – Both teams exhibiting some patience on possession, trying to figure out a way to break down the other's shape.

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9th Minute – Nobody can latch on to Deco's corner, but Portugal maintains possession.

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8th Minute – Ronaldo's ambitious from distance on the free kick, but it never cleared the wall.

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6th Minute – Awful Ivory Coast turnover leads to a "foul" by Zokora on Ronaldo. Terrible dive by Ronaldo there, but the ref missed it.

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5th Minute – Dangerous cross by Gervinho, but it's a little behind Kalou in the box.

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4th Minute – Threatening run by Dinane earns a throw-in in the final third. He was very sharp at Portsmouth during the end of the Premier League season.

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3rd Minute – Demel pushes forward for Les Elephants, but the double team thwarts his run.

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2nd Minute – Ronaldo with a good, confident first touch in the attacking end. The spotlight is on him today.

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1st Minute – And away we go.

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PREGAME – For Carlos Queiroz' side, Simao is probably the biggest name among the substitutes. Both of these teams are pretty loaded. Get ready for what could be the best match of the World Cup's opening week.

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PREGAME – Obviously, Drogba's omission is the story before the game begins, but don't feel sorry for the Ivory Coast. The front line of Dindane, Kalou and Gervinho can put the ball in the back of the net, and there's plenty of talent around the pitch on Sven's side.

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PREGAME – Here are the starting lineups:

IVORY COAST

—-Dindane—-Kalou—-Gervinho—

—-Tiote—–Y. Toure—–Eboue—-

–Tiene–Zokora–K. Toure–Demel–

——————Barry—————–

PORTUGAL

—-Liedson——-Ronaldo——-Danny—-

—-Meireles——-Mendes——–Deco—-

–Coentrao–Alves—Carvalho–Ferreira–

——————–Eduardo——————

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