PORT ELIZABETH, June 15 (Agencies): Ivory Coast tied Portugal 0-0 at the World Cup on Tuesday, largely outplaying its higher-ranked opponent despite Didier Drogba only coming on as a late substitute.
Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo rattled a 30-yard strike off the left post in the 11th minute, but Ivory Coast otherwise created the better chances.
Drogba came on as a 66th-minute substitute for fellow Chelsea striker Salomon Kalou after FIFA cleared him to play with a cast on his right arm, which he broke in a warmup match against Japan on June 4.
He was only ruled eligible shortly before kickoff at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, and his entrance was greeted by huge cheers, with vuvuzelas drowning out drumming by Ivorian fans for the first time in the match.
But Drogba had little impact on a defense that struggled to contain striker Gervinho, who tormented right back Paulo Ferreira until his 82nd-minute replacement by Abdul Keita.
Still, coach Sven-Goran Eriksson watched his star forward move comfortably, largely untroubled by an injury that had threatened to prevent him from taking any part in the month-long World Cup.
Ivory Coast had another injury problem late in the game when Kolo Toure went down clutching his leg and signaled to the bench for help.
The central defender was examined behind the goal line for a couple of minutes and hobbled back into action, but needed repeated treatment to his left knee with just minutes left.
Ronaldo’s best chance came with a long, swerving shot that evaded goalkeeper Boubacar Barry but bounced off the left post.
Drogba, sitting among the substitutes, reacted to the near miss by blowing out his cheeks and making the sign of the cross across his shoulders.
Guy-Roland Demel brought down Ronaldo with a sliding foul in the 21st minute and referee Jorge Larrionda gave them both yellow cards for squaring up to each other. Demel turned away without complaint but Ronaldo argued with the official, asking what he had done wrong.