Ivory Coast v Japan
Ivory Coast's players celebrate after their 2014 World Cup Group C soccer match against Japan at the Pernambuco arena in RecifeReuters

Ivory Coast made a stunning comeback and registered a  2-1 victory against Japan in their opening 2014 World Cup fixture at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife.

The Ivorians surprisingly decided to start with Wilfried Bony, leaving their experienced captain Didier Drogba on the bench.

Japan's tight and incisive passing caused a lot of problems for the Ivorians early on in the match. Soon enough Japan opened the scoring in the 16th minute through their star midfielder Keisuke Honda.

The Asian side worked out a short corner as Shinji Kagawa laid out the ball for Honda, who raced in the box and fired the ball past Boubacar Barry.

The Les Elephants did threaten from set pieces as Yaya Toure and Arthur Boka saw their free kicks narrowly miss the target in the 23rd and 30th minute respectively.

The African side slowly started stepping on the gas pedal late in the first half as Wilfried Bony saw his effort (from a very tight angle) rattle the cross bar. Japanese goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima was put under a lot of pressure as the physically dominant Ivorians kept on searching for the equaliser.

In the second half Ivorian forward Salomon Kalou forced the Japanese to retreat by making some good runs from the left flank. The Ivorians piled up more pressure by introducing their captain Didier Drogba at the hour mark.

The former Chelsea striker's addition made an immediate impact as the Ivorians finally grabbed the equaliser in the 64th minute. Aurier whipped in an excellent cross from the right and Bony made no mistake as he found the nets with an impressive heading.

A couple of minutes later the Ivorians grabbed the lead through Gervinho. Aurier was again in the thick of action as he raced forward from the right and delivered another brilliant cross towards the box. This time Gervinho rose above everyone else before finding the nets with a powerful header.

Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi, who was very pleased after the win, hailed the impact of Drogba in the second half.

"We didn't start the game very well by conceding through a lapse in concentration. After that, we got into a lot of good positions," said Lamouchi. "For us it was really important to start well this tournament. To have a player like Didier Drogba in your squad, as a starter or a sub, changes a game. The players are very happy with the victory, but we are not yet qualified."