Ivory Coast came from two goals behind to defeat Serbia & Montenegro in an entertaining Group C encounter.
Although both teams had already been eliminated, neither side was prepared to exit the tournament without a fight – literally in the case of some players – and the crowd in Munich were rewarded with an exciting encounter.
The victoy was just reward for the Ivory Coast’s contribution to the World Cup, and although they leave empty-handed, they can look back with pride on their efforts in what was regarded as the toughest of all the groups.
There were plenty of changes in both teams – six for the Ivory Coast and four in the Serbia and Montenegro ranks.
Ivory Coast skipper Didier Drogba was suspended and only Arthur Boka, Emmanuel Eboue, Didier Zokora, Yaya Toure and Arouna Kone keep their places from the team that were unlucky to lose to Holland.
Two of Serbia and Montenegro’s changes were forced with Mateja Kezman and Ognjen Koroman suspended. Albert Nadj was injured and captain Savo Milosevic was on the bench.
The win was Ivory Coast’s first in the World Cup, although given the inept defending and the spate of yellow and red cards awarded to both teams, they will perhaps remember the game for the result rather than the performance.
However, in the opening stages, a win for the Ivorians looked highly unlikely, with Serbia & Montengro exploiting some woeful defending as they sought to erase the memories of last week’s 6-0 drubbing by Argentina.
After stringing a series of passes together, Dejan Stankovic’s pass was controlled by Zigic, who took the ball round the stranded Barry to open the scoring.
The second goal was not long in coming and resulted from Domoraud’s inability to deal with Predrag Djordjevic’s free-kick and Ilic was on hand to guide the ball home.
The defensive lapses were not restricted to the Ivory Coast, and the African side were back in the game when Milan Dudic raised his hand after Arthur Boka crossed from the left.
Dindane had to twice take the penalty – his first effort was disallowed for encroachment – but the Lens striker slotted his second attempt past Serbia goalkeeper Drajoslav Jevric.
Just before the interval Jevric was lucky not to give away another a penalty when he appeared to bring down Dindane. But that piece of good fortune was soon forgotten when Nadj, who had only been on the pitch as a first-half substitute for 30 minutes, was sent off for a second yellow card.
Soon after Kouassi hit a stinging shot that left Jevric stranded but the effort glanced the bar as the African side began to take control.
Midway through the second half Dindane’s persistence reaped dividends when he headed past Jevric. At the other end, Stankovic could have won the game for Serbia & Montenegro, but he headed wide from just 8 yeards.
Dudic then presented the Ivorians with another penalty when he handled in the box and substitute Kalou converted the resulting spot-kick.
In stoppage time Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez decided to even the numbers by sending off Doromaud after he was booked for a crude challenge on Savo Milosevic.
Serbia & Montenegro: Jevric, Gavrancic, Nenad Djordjevic, Dudic, Krstajic, Ergic, Duljaj, Stankovic, Predrag Djordjevic, Ilic, Zigic.
Subs used: Nadj 16 (for Krstajic), Milosevic 66 (for Zigic).
Bookings: Nadj, Dudic, Duljaj, Gavrancic
Sent-off: Nadj 45.
Ivory Coast: Barry, Boka, Kouassi, Domoraud, Eboue, Akale, Zokora, Keita, Gneri Yaya Toure, Arouna Kone, Dindane.
Subs used: Bakari Kone 60 (for Akale), Kalou 72 (for Keita).
Bookings: Keita, Domoraud, Dindane
Sent-off: Domoraud 90.
Referee: Marco Rodriguez (Mexico).
Serbia & Montenegro: Zigic 10, Ilic 20.
Ivory Coast: Dindane 37 pen, 67, Kalou 86 pen