Recife, Brazil (SportsNetwork.com) - The Ivory Coast scored two second-half goals in quick succession to come from behind in a 2-1 defeat of Japan at the Arena Pernambuco on Saturday in Group C play.
It was a tale of two halves as Japan controlled much of the early going, grabbing the lead after only 16 minutes.
Keisuke Honda produced the opening goal, taking a pass from Yuto Nagatomo and using one touch to settle before lashing a left-footed shot into the upper corner from the top of the box.
The Ivory Coast struggled to get going in the first half, but a rejuvenated side emerged from the halftime break.
Veteran striker Didier Drogba entered the match in the 62nd minute and helped make an immediate impact by adding some guile to the Ivory Coast attack.
Drogba did not get on the scoresheet, but he managed to occupy spaces to put his teammates in more dangerous positions.
And within two minutes of Drogba's introduction, the Elephants got on level terms as Wilfried Bony got on the end of Serge Aurier's cross and sent a glancing header past Eiji Kawashima at the far post.
Aurier provided another assist to get the African nation in front just two minutes later, delivering an inch-perfect cross to Gervinho to allow the Roma attacker to stuff home a header at the near post.
The Ivory Coast continued to ask questions of the Japanese defense, but the one-goal lead proved to be all the Elephants would need to go level with Colombia atop Group C.
Saturday's results set up a tantalizing fixture on Thursday as the Ivory Coast will take on Colombia at the Estadio Nacional.
Japan, meanwhile, will look to bounce back on Thursday when it takes on Greece at the Estadio das Dunas.