El Salvador (pictured) celebrates after scoring against World Cup-bound Ivory Coast in an international friendly on June 4, 2014, in Frisco, Texas. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
FRISCO, Texas – In its first match under new head coach Albert Roca, El Salvador dropped a narrow 2-1 decision to World Cup-bound Ivory Coast on Wednesday at Toyota Stadium.
Though a thigh injury sidelined Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure, the near full-strength Ivorians were challenged throughout by a Salvadoran side that had not played in nearly a year.
Initial darting runs into the penalty area by Roma forward Gervinho were unsettling, but the Central Americans did well to hold firm.
In the ninth minute, however, the Roma forward would break the deadlock. Dropping deep to collect the ball, striker Didier Drogba played a perfectly weighted pass to Gervinho, allowing the 27-year-old to skip around goalkeeper Derby Carrillo and roll home his 14th career international goal.
As the Cuscatlecos began to find their shape, the game began to slow. With much of the play occurring in the center of the park, it wasn’t until late in the opening stanza that the Elephants were able to double their advantage.
Once again instrumental in the attack, Gervinho was sprung in to space by Cheick Tiote in the 42nd minute. While Carrillo was stuck between two minds at the edge of the area, Gervinho found Drogba, who was able to guide home his team’s second of the evening.
After the break, it was the introduction of recent Municipal signing Kevin Santamaria that seemed to spark the Salvadorans. Darwin Ceren nearly pulled a goal back in the 53rd minute, only to see his mishit effort go just wide of the net.
Playing with building confidence, El Salvador continued to create chances. Mid-way through the half, Herbert Sosa hit over the crossbar from seven-yards out.
Spurred on by the 72nd minute introduction of Arturo Alvarez, La Selecta enjoyed a solid spell of play. A well-hit half volley from Ceren was pushed wide by Ivorian keeper Boubacar Barry. On the ensuing corner, Kolo Toure was adjudged to have fouled Jonathan Águila in the box. Despite entering the field only shortly before, the Hungary-based Alvarez buried his penalty into the back of the net with conviction.
El Salvador now flies east for a Saturday meeting with defending World Cup champion Spain at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.