Elephants seal quarterfinal spot

Saloman Kalou of Ivory Coast celebrates his goal

Cote d’Ivoire sealed their place in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations with a 2-0 victory over Burkina Faso in their Group C encounter in Malabo on Thursday.

The Ivorians might have won by a greater margin were it not for their wastefulness in front of goal, with Arsenal striker Gervinho the chiefs culprit.

But in the end a first-half goal from Salomon Kalou and an unfortunate own goal from Bakary Kone for Burkina Faso see the Ivorians into the knockout stages and send the Burkinabe packing for him after the group stages.

It all might have been different had Burkina Faso been awarded a penalty on seven minutes when Moumouni Dagano appeared to have been brought down in the area after a neat bit of play with Jonathan Pitroipa, but referee Gehad Grisha from Egypt waved play-on.

The Elephants took the lead on 16 minutes when they profited from the injury-absence of Baray Kone, who was receiving treatment on the sidelines as Didier Drogba rampaged down the right and crossed into the box.

Yaya Toure missed the ball, but Kalou was on hand to thump his shot home with the left-foot having been left unmarked by the absence of Kone.

What followed was a horror-show from Gervinho, who first completely miss-kicked Drogba’s inviting cross, and then missed a sitter from six-yards, putting the ball well over the crossbar.

Daouda Diakite in the Burkina Faso goal produced a decent save to deny the Arsenal man again and there were worrying moments for the Ivorians in the build-up to that move.

Kalou broke free and ran at pace into the Burkina Faso half before pulling up with what appeared to be a hamstring problem. He was substituted immediately and if he has torn the muscle, will be out for the rest of the tournament.

That would be a bitter blow for The Elephants as he has looked their best man at the Nations Cup so far.

The points were save on 82 minutes when Kone put the ball into his own net after connecting with an aimless free-kick from 45-yards and looping his header over keeper Diakite.

There were some ugly scenes at the final whistle as tempers frayed, but Cote d’Ivoire deserved their win and can now plot for the knockout stages.

First they will take on Angola on Monday to decide who finishes top of this Group B, while Burkina Faso play Sudan, who are still in with a chance of  making the quarterfinals if they win and Cote d’Ivoire defeat Angola.