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Two goals in quick succession in the second half by Cote d’Ivoire shattered Japan’s hopes of victory as the team lost 2-1 in its opening World Cup match on Saturday, leaving Alberto Zaccheroni’s men with an uphill task to advance to the knockout phase.

Keisuke Honda broke the deadlock on 16 minutes, scoring in Japan’s opening game of the finals for the second tournament in a row, but as the Asian champions tired, Cote d’Ivoire, inspired by the introduction of talismanic striker Didier Drogba, struck back twice midway through the second half, through Wilfried Bony and Gervinho, to silence a pro-Japan crowd at Arena Pernambuco.

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