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Ivory Coast beats North Korea, but neither team advances

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The Associated Press
6/25/2010 1:13:20 PM
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NELSPRUIT, South Africa - Ivory Coast bowed out of the World Cup in style.

Needing an offensive show and a little bit of luck to make the second round, the Elephants got the offence but not the good fortune.

Yaya Toure, Koffi Romaric N'Dri and Salomon Kalou each scored Friday in a 3-0 win over North Korea, thrilling a pro-Ivory Coast crowd.

The only problem was that the Ivorians needed Portugal to lose to Brazil, then had to make up a nine-goal difference with the Portuguese to have a chance of moving on.

And Portugal tied Group G winner Brazil 0-0 to advance.

"Our World Cup is over today," Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba said. "But I think we can be proud of what we did against Portugal and against Brazil -- even if we lost -- and today.

"It was difficult for us to go through, and I think the FIFA rankings have been respected," Drogba said. "We are disappointed, but at the same time we cannot be too disappointed when we're in a group like this."

Earlier in group play, Ivory Coast tied Portugal 0-0 and lost to Brazil 3-1.

North Korea lost all three of its matches, giving up 12 goals and scoring just one in its first World Cup appearance since 1966. The team from the isolated, communist regime was a tournament curiosity, and never proved to be anything more.

The Koreans put up their best effort in a 2-1 loss to Brazil, then were routed by Portugal 7-0 and beaten soundly by the more physical Ivorians.

"It has laid the foundation for us to grow in the future. So this has been a very useful experience for us," North Korea coach Kim Jong Hun said. "Up until the last minute of the match, they really put in all their effort. I think that's a very positive trait."

Ivory Coast attacked all game, outshooting the Koreans 28-9.

"I think the players were very, very good," Ivory Coast coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said. "It's a pity we have to leave, because this team is getting better and better every session. But that's life. We're out. We have to accept that."

Ghana is the only one of six African teams in the World Cup to advance to the round of 16.

There were large groups of Ivorians in the crowd, wearing orange shirts and dipping and swaying in unison to the beat of African drums and the constant drone of vuvuzelas. One section, on the top tier of Mbombela Stadium, even included a mascot: a dancing white elephant, complete with long white trunk and flapping ears.

The fans came expecting goals, and Ivory Coast kept them on their feet.

The Elephants opened the scoring in the 14th when Arthur Boka sent a low cross into the area and Toure neatly deflected it past North Korean goalkeeper Ri Yong Guk.

Romaric hit the far post with a long-range drive from the right in the 17th, catching Ri completely off guard, but was on target with a header in the 20th after Drogba's powerful drive cannoned off the underside of the crossbar.

Kalou scored the final goal in the 82nd.

"If you look at the three games we played, they should be very proud of themselves," Eriksson said, "and the country should be proud of them."

North Korea had few seriously threatening opportunities. Captain Hong Yong Jo hooked his free kick from 25 yards to the right in the 24th and striker Jong Tae Se's long-range right-foot shot in the 53rd was easily saved by Boubacar Barry.

"We really wanted to do well in this last match -- I went into it feeling like I really needed to score a goal," Jong said. "I'm very upset that I wasn't able to do that."

Yaya Toure (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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