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Summary

  1. Ivory Coast score twice in two mins
  2. Drogba comes off bench to spark comeback
  3. Honda scores powerful opener

Live Reporting

By Neil Johnston

All times stated are UK

Get involved

That's a wrap, folks. It's late, very late. But that game was worth staying up for. We're back later for live text commentary on three more games - Switzerland v Ecuador, France v Honduras and Argentina against Bosnia-Hercegovina. Until then. . .

Full-time

Ivory Coast 2-1 Japan

BBC World Service reporter John Bennett in Recife: "Ivory Coast win their opening match at a World Cup for the first time in their history. They've never reached the knockout phase but a place in the last 16 is now within their grasp. He may not have had a hand in the goals, but Didier Drogba's entrance into the game seemed to inspire his team mates and intimidate Japan.

"Head coach Sabri Lamouchi will be under huge pressure to pick the 36-year-old in the starting eleven in their next match against Colombia. But can he really drop Wilfried Bony, who scored the equaliser?

"Serge Aurier had a slow start but set up both goals from right-back and looks a star in the making. Japan qualified for this World Cup with ease but a poor second half performance means they're in serious trouble. They surely have to beat Greece to stand any chance of making it to through the group."

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Martin: Yaya Toure very quiet in this game, could easily see Ivory Coast progress from the group, especially if he shows up.

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FULL-TIME

Ivory Coast 2-1 Japan

Celebrations break out on the pitch and in the stands as Ivory Coast seal a deserved comeback victory.

Ivory Coast 2-1 Japan

Ivory Coast will certainly feel they should have scored more goals but they seem content to run down the clock now. Didier Ya Konan wants treatment after crashing to the ground following a challenge. There's a lengthy stoppage as he is carried off the pitch on a stretcher.

Ivory Coast 2-1 Japan

Four minutes of added time. It's now or never for Japan.

Ivory Coast 2-1 Japan

They have never advanced past the group stages in the World Cup, but Ivory Coast are moments away from a win that will leave them well positioned to reach the knockout phase in Brazil. Japan started brightly but have faded badly in the rain in Recife.

Ivory Coast 2-1 Japan

If anything it is Ivory Coast who look the more likely to score as the game enters the closing stages. Another chance for Drogba whose low, powerful, goal-bound attempt is deflected wide by Masato Morishige.

BBC World Service reporter John Bennett in Recife: "Serge Aurier's transfer fee may just have increased during this game. The Toulouse right-back has impressed with two assists. Arsene Wenger will be wishing he'd got his cheque book out before the World Cup. I'm sure other clubs - apart from Arsenal - will be interested in the 21 year-old."

CLOSE!

Ivory Coast 2-1 Japan

Drogba is eager to make a goalscoring impact. The Ivory Coast substitute curls a free-kick from 20 yards around the Japan wall but Eiji Kawashima is equal to his effort.

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Andy, Cannock: Brilliant from Ivory Coast but Japan are still in this. Didier Drogba's impact as a sub is astounding. He's lifted the whole team.

SUBSTITUTION

Ivory Coast 2-1 Japan

Ivory Coast's noisy fans rise to their feet as Wilfried Bony makes way for Didier Ya Konan. Japan are beginning to run out of time. They need something special. Is this Shinji Kagawa's moment?

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Abdul: Those two crosses from Serge Aurier tells you exactly why Arsene Wenger has chosen him as a Bacary Sagna replacement.

Ricky: Feel sorry for Japan, clearly the better side. Ivory Coast only ahead through their physical attributes.

Ivory Coast 2-1 Japan

What a cracking match. Didier Drogba's introduction has clearly lifted his team-mates and Japan, having looked so comfortable, now have it all to do. The Africans have lost Arthur Boka to injury. Can Japan take advantage in the final 15 minutes?

BBC World Service reporter John Bennett in Recife: "What a comeback by Ivory Coast and is it a coincidence that it happened straight after Didier Drogba came on? Head coach Sabri Lamouchi has been criticised but his decision to keep Wilfried Bony on, when he brought Drogba on to the pitch, looks inspired. Gervinho has been a different player since he signed for Roma and was inspirational in Ivory Coast's qualifiers. He could be the hero. Ivory Coast have never won their opening match at a World Cup."

GOAL

Ivory Coast 2-1 Japan - Gervinho (65 mins)

Amazing. Absolutely amazing. They have been trailing for most of the match but Ivory Coast are suddenly in front after another fine delivery by Serge Aurier allows former Arsenal forward Gervinho to head past Eiji Kawashima. The Japan goalkeeper will feel he should have done better after a fumbled attempt at a save. But the Africans don't care. They're delirious.

GOAL

Ivory Coast 1-1 Japan - Wilfried Bony (64 mins)

Wilfried Bony can count himself fortunate to still be on the pitch after a string of misses but the Swansea man finally delivers his side's equaliser, a glancing header from Serge Aurier's excellent cross. Ivory Coast are right back in this.

Wilfred Bony scores for Ivory Coast
AFP

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Tom: With Didier Zokora and Salomon Kalou in the Ivorian team, the Elephants will be heading home soon.

Shane: Japan are a fine team and they are showing up all these people who wrote them off. Defensively solid, with great creativity.

Joey: What I want to know is why some of the Japanese players have odd boots?

SUBSTITUTION

A huge roar goes up as Didier Drogba finally enters the action. Can the former Chelsea man rescue his country? Off goes Serey Die.

Didier Drogba comes off for Ivory Coast
AFP/GETTY

Ivory Coast 0-1 Japan

Controversy. Southampton's Maya Yoshida, who has already been booked, challenges Yaya Toure inside the Japan area and the powerful Ivory Coast man crumples to the ground. No penalty. Replays show the referee was right but Yaya is unhappy and lets the official know all about it.

Ivory Coast 0-1 Japan

Ivory Coast boss Sabri Lamouchi needs to do something. Japan's lead might be narrow but they are looking very comfortable.

Ivory Coast 0-1 Japan

Japan might be leading but Ivory Coast are well ahead when it comes to chances created. What's this? The game's first substitution is about to be made. But Didier Drogba stays where he is as Japan captain Makoto Hasebe paves the way for Yasuhito Endo's arrival.

Ivory Coast 0-1 Japan

New half, same old Ivory Coast. It would appear Wilfried Bony has left his scoring boots behind in Swansea as he wastes another golden chance. Can someone get them to him before the final whistle? That latest miss prompts movement on the bench as Didier Drogba starts warming up on the sidelines.

KICK-OFF

Ivory Coast 0-1 Japan

No Didier Drogba yet for Ivory Coast. We're back under way in Recife.

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Bob, Bristol: What a luxury to watch such a game at such a ridiculous hour.

BBC World Service reporter John Bennett in Recife: "Ivory Coast have wasted their chances so surely it won't be too long before former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba is sent on to try to change the game. It would be his sixth World Cup match and he'll be looking for his third World Cup goal.

"The Ivorian fans are still confident; they haven't stopped singing and dancing during this game. As for Japan, their Italian coach Alberto Zaccheroni will be delighted. Ivory Coast are struggling to cope with the likes of Keisuke Honda, and Yaya Toure hasn't been allowed to dominate the game."

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Chibuzo: Ivory Coast are piling the pressure on Japan. Final ball is lacking.

Hilary: Ivory Coast's poor touches are letting them down. They are becoming as mediocre as Cameroon.

Andrew Tarpy: If Japan can get the ball near the Ivory Coast box you feel they can score more with Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda.

BBC World Service reporter John Bennett in Recife: "He's one of the youngest head coaches at this World Cup and Sabri Lamouchi is under real pressure at half-time. He knows what's coming if Ivory Coast lose this game - questions will be asked about why he dropped Didier Drogba despite the fact that he was arguably his most impressive player in the warm-up matches."

HALF-TIME

Ivory Coast 0-1 Japan

So, the first country to book their plane ticket to Brazil are ahead at the interval. Alberto Zaccheroni's side deserve their lead but you sense there's more goals in this. Certainly if Ivory Coast can discover a cutting edge.

Ivory Coast 0-1 Japan

Arthur Boka is a defender who likes to get forward. He's had as many chances as Ivory Coast's forward line and his latest effort is well held by Eiji Kawashima. Half-time is imminent.

Ivory Coast 0-1 Japan

Salomon Kalou
Reuters

And another chance goes begging. This time Salomon Kalou is left looking sheepish as his free header from the edge of the six-yard area is nodded high and wide. Dear oh dear.

Ivory Coast 0-1 Japan

There's a band playing inside the ground. Lots of trumpets, drums and horns. The noise levels increase as Wilfried Bony lashes another chance over the bar. The Africans need to start making these chances count.

CLOSE!

Ivory Coast 0-1 Japan

So close for Ivory Coast. Japan keeper Eiji Kawashima does well to beat out Arthur Boka's fierce drive and the balls falls for Wilfried Bony. But Gervinho is in an offside position as the Swansea forward attempts to force the ball over the line.

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Garry, Manchester: Japan have an excellent, balanced midfield with Kagawa, Endo and Honda creating and Makoto Hasebe holding. They also have a pair of good scorers in Okazaki and the emerging Kakitani. If they handle the physical presence of Bony up front, Japan have a real chance.

Ivory Coast 0-1 Japan

Still awake? This is actually another decent game. Have we seen a bad match yet at this tournament? Ivory Coast's muscle is causing the Japanese defence problems but the Asian champions look dangerous on the break with their pace.

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Ahmer: The Ivory Coast goalie looks nervous. Japan could get a second here.

John: I thought Japan would cause problems early on until it settled down, I bet Drogba has said to the coach "put me on".

Ian: Honda 'motors' into the area and 'drives' home a wonderful finish. Some 'engine' on that man.

Very good, Ian. Japan were certainly in a different gear early on.

Ivory Coast 0-1 Japan

Yaya Toure seems to be on a one-man mission to haul Ivory Coast back into this. A surging run by the Manchester City man causes major panic in the Japanese defence. Toure had earlier blazed over from a free-kick before teeing up a chance for Salomon Kalou which is spurned. Japan have the lead but for how much longer?

Ivory Coast 0-1 Japan

John Bennett, BBC World Service reporter in Recife: "Between them, Ivory Coast's front three - Wilfried Bony, Gervinho and Salomon Kalou - scored 50 goals last season.

"Behind them, Yaya Toure scored 24 goals for Manchester City. So they should have enough firepower to get back into this game.

"Yet again though, they've been let down by their Achilles heel - defending. Sol Bamba and Didier Zokora have never convinced as a centre-back pairing. Kolo Toure will be extremely frustrated to have been left on the bench."

Ivory Coast 0-1 Japan

How will Ivory Coast respond to falling behind? Well, not very well actually. Schalke's Atsuto Uchida dances past one African defender before unleashing a powerful shot from inside the area that Boubacar Barry blocks. Japan are well on top. And Didier Drogba has still to crack a smile on the substitutes bench.