Through three days, the World Cup has resembled the men's dress code for casual Fridays at the office: No ties.
Japan endeavored for almost half an hour to pull even against Ivory Coast in the tournament's eighth game but bowed 2-1, thus assuring that a winner and a loser have emerged from every match.
Athleticism topped efficiency as the Ivory Coast players, who dominated on shots launched (21-7) and time of possession (59% to 41%), scored 100 seconds apart in the second half.
Serge Aurier, whose chip into the box found the head of Wilfried Bony for the initial goal, let fly again soon after to the skull of Gervinho for the same result.
Two headers were better than anything the Blue Samurai could muster, off heads or feet. Keisuke Honda hammered a left-footer home in the 16th minute for a lead that did not hold up.
Ivory Coast is an aging team, its roster sprinkled with many 30-somethings. The hot and humid conditions before kickoff favored Japan but, as the late night grew cooler and a soft rain fell, the Elephants were able to endure.
The competition's first draw will have to wait another day.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun