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Jan 26, 2013

Ivory Coast cruises past Tunisia

Ivory Coast took a giant stride toward the knockout stage of the African Nations Cup with a routine 3-0 victory over Tunisia in Rustenburg on Saturday.

Gervinho, Yaya Toure and Didier Ya Konan were on target as the Elephants followed up their 2-1 win over Togo with another three points to cement their place at the top of Group D.

Algeria's loss to Togo later in the day ensured the Ivorians will advance to the quarterfinals as the Group D winner.

Tunisia was thoroughly outclassed Saturday but its narrow win over Algeria in its opening match means it will progress if it beats Togo on Wednesday.

Ivory Coast is the favorite for the title and dominated the opening exchanges against the Tunisians before hitting the opener on 21 minutes.

Gervinho was on target in the win over Togo and set the ball rolling Saturday, with the Arsenal forward dispossessing a defender and playing a smart one-two with Lacina Traore before planting the ball high into the net over the advancing Moez Ben Cherifia.

Ivory Coast was comfortable in defending its lead and Tunisia had to wait until the 70th minute to force Boubacar Barry into meaningful action, with the goalkeeper getting down low at his near post to make a decent stop from Oussama Darragi.

For all their dominance, the Ivorians had to wait until three minutes from the end to make sure of the points, with Yaya Toure claiming his second of the tournament as he collected the ball on the edge of the area and curled in a delightful finish.

And Ivory Coast increased their margin of victory in the final minute as substitute Ya Konan scored with his first involvement, receiving the ball from Gervinho and tucking a shot into the right corner.

Togo 2, Algeria 0

Emmanuel Adebayor's first-half strike and a stoppage-time clincher from substitute Dove Wome earned Togo its first win of the Cup and sent Algeria tumbling out of the competition.

Both teams headed into the encounter at Rustenburg's Royal Bafokeng Stadium having lost their opening Group D games, and it was Didier Six's side who kept alive its hopes of reaching the quarterfinals.

Adebayor opened the scoring against the run of play in the 32nd minute and, during the early stages of the 13 minutes of stoppage time that were added after play was halted because the frame of the goal was knocked out of line, Wome sealed matters.

Islam Slimani had half a sight of goal for Algeria in the 14th minute but lashed his right-footed shot wide.

Kossi Agassa had to be alert midway through the first half, with the Togo goalkeeper flying through the air to divert Adlene Guedioura's header around the post, and then getting down well to keep out Mehdi Lacen's deflected volley from the resulting corner.

Algeria was having the better of the chances but was unable to find the breakthrough, and Adebayor showed how it was done just after the half-hour.

The Tottenham frontman was afforded too much space as he latched onto Moustapha Salifou's header and coolly slotted a right-footed finish low past Rais M'Bolhi.

Slimani should have equalized nine minutes before the break but Agassa again got his body in the way to ensure Togo went in ahead at the interval.

Algeria had two decent penalty shouts within 15 minutes of the restart, for challenges on Sofiane Feghouli and Slimani, but both were waved away by the referee.

Agassa did well to keep out a powerful effort from Guedioura in the 74th minute and, 10 minutes later, substitute Yacine Bezzaz sent a rebound over the bar after El Arbi Soudani's shot had been blocked by teammate Rafik Halliche, but that was as close as Vahid Halilhodzic's side got to restoring parity.

There was a lengthy stoppage in play toward the end while the goalposts were realigned after Nottingham Forest midfielder Guedioura fell into the net.

Thirteen minutes of stoppage time were played following the disruption, giving Algeria further hope, but the only further goal arrived when Wome stroked a low shot past M'Bolhi to put the result beyond doubt.

Information from Press Association was used in this report.

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