Belgium vs. Ivory Coast: Final score 2-2, Elephants earn draw at the death

Dean Mouhtaropoulos

The Ivory Coast came from 2-0 down to draw in a battle of shoddy defending.

Belgium and the Ivory Coast both expect to make it out of their groups at this summer's World Cup and their attacks showed why in a friendly on Wednesday, although both defenses could use work. There were several chances for both teams, but it was the final strike by the Elephants that stood out as Max-Alain Gradel scored two minutes into stoppage time to earn the Ivory Coast a 2-2 draw.

Belgium took the lead 17 minutes in as Marouane Fellaini skied to meet a corner kick. His header found the net and the home side had an early lead.

Fellaini's goal would be a sign of things to come as every goal in the match came on a cross, either from a set piece or otherwise. As one might imagine, neither team defended them well.

The Ivory Coast defense couldn't be blamed for Radja Nainggolan's goal, though. That one came down to terrible goalkeeping. The midfielder got down the left before attempting a cross that was on the ground and towards the near post. Nobody made a near-post run so Sayouba Mande could have gathered it early, but instead he made a meal of it and pushed it just inside the post for the goal.

With a 2-0 lead at home, it looked like Belgium would cruise to victory, but the Ivory Coast piled on pressure the rest of the way and in the 74th minute it paid off. Yaya Toure got down the right before he crossed for Didier Drogba. It wasn't a particularly good cross, but Belgium let it bounce, allowing Drogba to get to it and force his way through two defenders before bundling it home.

Drogba's goal set the stage for the Ivory Coast to benefit from more shoddy defending by Belgium two minutes into stoppage time. Belgium failed to clear a cross, knocking it around the box before it fell to Max-Alain Gradel, who slotted the ball home from 15 yards to earn the Elephants a draw.

The attacking play was good and the match was plenty entertaining, but neither side will be happy with their defending. If they want to make it to the knockout stages this summer, that will have to change.

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