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Cote d’Ivoire legend Gervinho makes international return

Ivory Coast's Gervinho celebrates his goal against Togo during their African Nations Cup (AFCON 2013) Group D soccer match in Rustenburg, January 22, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

Cote d’Ivoire legend Gervinho made a U-turn to feature for the Elephants in their 1-0 defeat to Japan in Tuesday’s international friendly.

After drawing with Belgium, the number one ranked football nation, last week the Ivory Coast fell 1-0 to Japan in the Dutch city of Utrecht.

Unmarked Naomichi Ueda snatched a late Japanese winner with a diving far-post header past goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo.

The Ivorian line-up included former Arsenal attacker Gervinho, recalled for the first time since 2017.

Gervinho — who scored the winner in Ivory Coast’s 2-1 defeat of Japan at the 2014 World Cup — forced the first save of the match when he was stopped by Japan keeper Daniel Schmidt early in the second half.

The 33-year-old played for 81 minutes as Patrice Beaumelle’s team lost to the Samurai Blue inside Utrecht’s Galgenwaard Stadium.

Gervinho has made 84 international appearances for Cote d’Ivoire, scoring 22 goals.

In the 2019-20 season, he scored seven times in 31 Serie A games as Roberto D’Aversa’s Parma finished 11th in the Italian elite division. He is yet to find a goal in the 2020-21 campaign.

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