Abidjan: Ivory Coast began a new era without the talismanic Didier Drogba on Saturday, defeating Sierra Leone 2-1 in their opening African Nations Cup qualifier.
The hosts came from behind to beat their west African rivals who were severely affected by the Ebola virus outbreak in the leadup to the game, with support staff prohibited from travelling to Abidjan by Ivorian health authorities.
Two goals in three minutes midway through the second half turned the Group D game around after Kei Kamara had given Sierra Leone a 40th-minute lead.
Seydou Doumbia equalised in the 64th minute with a header from Serge Aurier`s cross and Gervinho hit the winner three minutes later to give new coach Herve Renard a triumphant start.
Chelsea striker Drogba, 36, announced his retirement from international football last month after scoring 61 goals in 103 appearances for his country.