Salomon Kalou continued his good form at the Beijing Olympics by scoring the winner in a 1-0 victory over Australia in Group A today.
Chelsea’s Kalou, 23, struck nine minutes from time to send the Ivory Coast to the last eight of the tournament.
After Argentina’s qualification on Sunday, the Ivory Coast striker was determined to send his side through against the Oceania side.
Despite the Ivory Coast’s domination throughout the encounter and with Kalou spurning several opportunities, the result looked destined to be a draw. And although the Australians hardly threatened the Ivory Coast, they almost provided a shock in the opening half when David Carney’s effort was cleared off the line by Souleymane Bamba.
However, after Kalou had been denied by a first half save from Australian goalkeeper Adam Federici and striking over twice in quick succession after the break, the Oume born player received a clever pass by Gervinho, before striking a right-foot volley expertly past Federici to seal victory.
Although the Australians frustrated the Ivory Coast for long periods, the result was again down to Kalou’s persistence, which midfielder Emmanuel Kone echoed. “Kalou is a very experienced player. The chances he created were the reason we were able to win,” Kone said. Australia coach Graham Arnold added: “The difference today was Kalou. Big player.”
Kalou and the Ivory Coast will now face African rivals Nigeria in the quarter-finals. The game is on Saturday in Qinhuangdao, 300 kilometres east of Beijing.