Ivory Coast were unable to overcome the challenge from Colombia on Thursday, losing 2-1 to the South Americans, who will now take the lead in Group C.
All three goals were scored in the span of just 10 minutes, with James Rodriguez and Juan Quintero giving Colombia a two-goal lead before Gervinho pegged one back.
Didier Drogba once again started on the bench for the Ivorians, with manager Sabri Lamouchi perhaps hoping for a similar impact from the veteran as a substitute like the one we saw in the win over Japan.
The Ivorians struggled for much of the first half, losing the midfield battle to the technically adept Colombians. Yaya Toure was one of the few who put in a truly good performance, as shared by World Cup Stats:
Yaya Toure made 4 successful take-ons in the first half - twice as many as any other player #CIV— World Cup Stats (@WCStats) June 19, 2014
The Manchester City man took full use of his incredible athleticism, and this fan noted Toure was playing with a lot of swagger:
How Yaya Toure walked into the stadium pic.twitter.com/GaoPSR07rP— Angel☯ (@angelroldan29) June 19, 2014
This particular run, as shared by World Soccer Talk, was very impressive:
But for all of his hard work, Toure was unable to really trouble the Colombian defense. Early in the second half, it was time for Drogba to throw his weight around, and when he came on the pitch, the Ivorian fans couldn't hide their excitement.
Africans Are Us noticed it as well:
Drogba makes the whole stadium live!!!🙌— Africans Are Us (@africansthebest) June 19, 2014
Unfortunately, Drogba didn't have the sort of impact fans would have hoped for. Rodriguez opened the scoring from a set-piece play, and as shared by DW Sports, Drogba's marking of the midfielder wasn't all that great:
Fantasy iTeam wasn't particularly impressed either:
So much for the Drogba effect! #CIV— Fantasy iTeam (@fantasyiteam) June 19, 2014
Quintero's clinical finish on the counter seemed to have decided the match, but a brilliant solo effort from Gervinho gave life back to the Elephants. With just 15 minutes left on the clock, Bleacher Report's Ed Dove felt like the true stars of the team had to step up:
A big 15 minutes for the 'Golden Generation' #forgiveme— Ed Dove (@EddyDove) June 19, 2014
It didn't happen, and despite one or two half-chances for the Ivorians, the Colombians came closest to scoring with a spectacular long-range effort from Quintero.
The score remained 2-1, and Ivory Coast will now need another good result against Greece on the final matchday to advance to the next round.
ESPN's Tommy Smyth weighed in on the match, noting Drogba was held in check in large part by an excellent performance from the Colombian defence:
No Drogba magic it was all Yepes as Colombia get a great 2-1 victory . IC played well but Colombia have won 2 games now good team.— Tommy Smyth (@TommySmythESPN) June 19, 2014
Ivory Coast are still in a strong position to advance from Group C thanks to their 2-1 win over Japan, and the Samurai Blue still have to play Greece.
The Greeks are known for their excellent defensive unit, but they struggled during preparations for the tournament and conceded three goals against Colombia in their first match of the World Cup.
Colombia might decide to rest one or two players against Japan, but they won't gift the Samurai Blue any points in that match. Ivory Coast will have their fate in their own hands when they face Greece, but they'll need an even bigger performance from their two main stars, Toure and Drogba.
The latter has been used as a super-sub so far this tournament, and his mere presence seems to lift the spirits of his teammates. Toure has so far been unable to replicate his scoring form on the club level, and he'll need to change that for his team to have any chance of making a deep run in this tournament.