Striker Drogba returns to action for Ivory Coast

Posted By: Pti

London, Feb 9 (AP) Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogbaenjoyed a winning return to international football againstMali in his first match since last year''s World Cup.

The Chelsea forward helped to create Didier Ya Konan''sfirst international goal, which secured a 1-0 victory in thefriendly in Valence, France yesterday.

Drogba chested down a long ball into the path of Lillestriker Gervinho, whose cross from the right was slammed highinto the net by Ya Konan after three minutes.

Africa''s top-ranked team, Ghana, beat Togo 4-1 in afriendly in Antwerp, Belgium, giving coach Goran Stevanovic awinning start in the job.

Striker Dominic Adiyiah gave Ghana a 1-0 lead at halftimeand after Togo equalised with a penalty three minutes into thesecond half, Jonathan Mensah, an own goal from Togo defenderAkpakpo, and a late strike from Samuel Inkoom sealed the win.

Tuesday also marked the start of two friendly tournamentseach featuring four European countries.

Darron Gibson, Damien Duff and Keith Fahey scored in thesecond half to give Ireland a 3-0 victory over Wales in acompetition featuring the British Isles nations -- minusEngland. It was Gary Speed''s first match in charge of Walessince being hired in December.

Scotland plays Northern Ireland today and the trophy willbe decided by further matches in May.

In the Cyprus tournament, the hosts lost 2-0 to Swedenand Ukraine beat Romania 4-2 in a penalty shootout on the eastMediterranean island.

Tobias Hysen put Sweden in front in the 26th when heheaded in a curling Martin Olsson cross at Nicosia''s GSPstadium. An unmarked Markus Berg added the second on thestroke of halftime when he latched onto a through ball fromPontus Wernblom from 10 meters.

In Paralimni, two saves by veteran goalkeeper OleksandrShovkovskiy in the shootout secured the victory for Euro 2012co-hosts Ukraine after the match ended 2-2.

Yaroslav Rakitskiy and Artem Milevskiy had given Ukrainea 2-0 lead, but Romania drew level before halftime thanks togoals from striker Dan Alexa.

Today, Sweden and Ukraine meet in Nicosia and Cyprustakes on Romania in Paralimni. (AP) CM

Story first published: Wednesday, February 9, 2011, 13:30 [IST]
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