Italy draws with Ivory Coast

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Aimo Diana scored an 86th-minute equalizer in Italy's 1-1 draw with Ivory Coast in a friendly on Wednesday.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:53 IST
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Aimo Diana scored an 86th-minute equalizer in Italy's 1-1 draw with Ivory Coast in a friendly on Wednesday. Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba netted in the 69th after brilliantly controlling a 60-meter pass from defender Arthur Boka and shooting home from 12 meters at the largely empty Stade de Geneve. Italy equalized when Vincenzo Iaquinta knocked on a cross from Gianluca Zambrotta, leaving Diana a simple tap in with his right foot. Diana almost scored a winner in injury time, but Ivory Coast goalkeeper Barry Boubacar was adjudged to have kept the ball from crossing the goal line. Play on Diana's right-foot strike from a cross by Mauro Camoranesi in injury time was stopped by Boubacar, but appeared to have crossed the line. The officials, however, waved play on, despite the Italian protests. The Ivorians, who are heading to their first ever World Cup, mostly outplayed the disappointing Italy. Italy, who made six changes to the side which beat the Netherlands 3-1 in Amsterdam on Saturday, did not manage a shot on goal until Diana's strike. Struggling on Italy struggled against an Ivory Coast defense led by Arsenal center back Kolo Toure, which shut down Italy striker Alberto Gilardino and his replacement, Luca Toni, the top scorer in the Serie A. "I'm a little bit sad because of the result," Toure said. "I think we played really well." Italy coach Marcello Lippi said he wasn't concerned about the score but was pleased that his side fought back. "The result was the last thing that mattered," Lippi said. "It was a day of work, and in this sense it was a positive night. At the end, we reacted well." Ivory Coast had most of the possession in the first half and Drogba provided an early chance after taking the ball from his own half and beating one Italy defender before setting up Dindane Aruna. But his shot from 10 meters (yards) was well parried by Italy goalkeeper Christian Abbiati. Abbiati was also called into action to save a free kick from Drogba. Later, the Juventus goalkeeper did well to block a 30-meter effort from Ivory Coast midfielder Gilles Yapi-Yapo. Diana and fellow substitutes Camoranesi and Gennaro Gattuso all had chances to win the match for Italy in the final minutes. Lineups: Italy: Christian Abbiati (Marco Amelia, 72), Andrea Barzagli, Fabio Grosso (Gianluca Zambrotta, 63), Marco Materazzi, Cristian Zaccardo (Massimo Oddo, 46), Simone Barone, Daniele De Rossi (Aimo Diana, 46), Andrea Pirlo (Gennaro Gattuso, 46), Alessandro Del Piero (Mauro Camoranesi, 46), Alberto Gilardino (Luca Toni, 46), Vincenzo Iaquinta. Ivory Coast: Barry Boubacar, Kolo Toure, Yaya Toure (Djire Abdoulaye, 72), Abdoulaye Meite, Arthur Boka, Marc-Andre Zoro, Didier Zokora, Gilles Yapi-Yapo (Bonaventure Kalou, 46), Dindane Aruna (Bakary Kone, 46), Didier Drogba (Kandia Traore, 83), Arouna Kone (N'Dri Romaric, 72). (AP)