No-score draw as Drogba plays

Injured Ivorian striker features as substitute against Portugal in World Cup Group G.

    Neither Drogba nor Ronaldo could break the deadlock [GALLO/GETTY]

    Didier Drogba made a substitute appearance and Cristiano Ronaldo hit a post but the clash between Cote d'Ivoire and Portugal in their World Cup Group G match finished in a goalless draw.

    Portugal's Ronaldo rattled a post with a vicious long range shot in the 11th minute but his team never came that close again to scoring against their African opponents.

    Ivorian striker Drogba, who broke an arm just before the tournament, appeared as a 66th minute substitute wearing an approved plaster cast.

    Semi-finalists in 2006, Portugal struggled to make a serious impact and made their job of advancing from a fierce Group G – which includes Brazil and North Korea – no easier in a fluid match that yielded only a handful of goalscoring chances.

    The draw will boost the confidence of the Ivorians, who enjoyed most of the possession and always looked dangerous with smooth passing and plenty of energy going forward.

    "I thought our team should have won," Cote d'Ivoire coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said.

    "It was us who had more chances.

    "Both teams played like they didn't want to take big chances and lose. If you start to attack frantically against Portugal, they will kill you."

    The mood in the Portuguese camp was less upbeat.

    "We needed this win and we had chances to win," midfielder Deco said.

    "It's our first game, we're nervous, we're anxious. We knew it was an important game, but we need to focus on the next one now."

    Constant menace

    Gervais Kouassi, better known as Gervinho, proved himself a constant menace for the Portuguese defence with penetrating runs into the area that left Ricardo Carvalho and Bruno Alvez scrambling.

    SPECIAL COVERAGE

    For Portugal, Danny started on the wing in place of the match-weary Simao Sabrosa and never found his feet, despite good form in warm-up matches.

    He was replaced by Simao shortly the break.

    Portugal stepped up a gear later in the game without looking likely to score, with Ronaldo's darting runs failing to deliver against a resilient defence.

    "I'm extremely happy with the quality of our defending, we weren't perfect but we were very, very good," Eriksson said.

    Cote d'Ivoire's next opponents are Brazil on Sunday at the Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg while Portugal face North Korea in Cape Town on Monday.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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