Cote d'Ivoire edges past Sudan

Only goal ... Cote d'Ivoire striker Didier Drogba (Getty Images)

Cote d'Ivoire made hard work of winning its first game in this year's African Cup of Nations before edging out Sudan 1-0.

The Elephants dominated the first half but had to wait 39 minutes for Didier Drogba to open the scoring.

Sudan came into the game from that point on, having initially set up to contain its opponent, but Drogba's remained the only goal of the match.

Gervinho fired over with the first shot of the game before Najem Abdullah was booked for fouling the Arsenal forward.

Jean-Jacques Gosso's 25-yard swipe was wildly off target and Yaya Toure and Gervinho were off target with headers.

Gervinho lashed wastefully wide after Drogba's superb control and lay-off but the opener finally arrived when Salomon Kalou crossed from the left for Chelsea team-mate Drogba to head home his 51st international goal.

Sudan, ranked 120th in the world compared to its opponent's mark of 18th, almost found an immediate response when Hamid Nazar's mishit shot was controlled by Mohamed Bashir, who fired wide, and then Eltaib Mudather cut inside and saw his shot tipped onto the crossbar by goalkeeper Boubacar Barry.

Sudan started the second half brightly but Barry saved from Alaadine Yousif and Nazar shot wide.

Gervinho's close-range effort almost caused problems for keeper Elmuez Maghoub before Mudather injured himself as he landed awkwardly after a ludicrously ambitious overhead effort from around 30 yards

Cote d'Ivoire looked to kill the game off but substitute Max Gradel dragged a shot hopelessly wide and Drogba volleyed over.

Gervinho then struck a dropping ball just high and wide of the target and Toure got his 25-yard effort all wrong before the game petered out, Nazar shooting well wide from Sudan's last opportunity.