Ivory Coast thrashed Malawi 3-0 in the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualification Group D match at Orlando Stadium in South Africa on Friday afternoon.
The victory saw the Elephants open a four-point lead at the top of the group standings, while the Flames remained third on the table, and the two teams will clash again in Benin on 11 October.
The Elephants were determined to make it two wins in a row in Group D having edged out Cameroon 2-1 at home in their previous match last month, while Malawi had defeated Mozambique 1-0 at home.
Ivory Coast controlled the match well with their captain Serge Aurier making his usual powerful overlapping runs in the right flank and he grabbed an assist when the visitors took lead.
The former Tottenham Hotspur star set-up Max Gradel, who beat goalkeeper Richard Chipuwa with a first-time left-footed shot to hand Ivory Coast a 1-0 lead in the 36th minute.
Ivory Coast were then able to contain the Flames and the Elephants were leading 1-0 during the halftime break in Soweto.
The visitors continued their dominance after the restart, but the Flames were able to defend much better in the opening stages of the second half.
However, this changed with five minutes left and the visitors scored through Ibrahim Sangare, who netted to hand Ivory Coast a 2-0 lead with substitute Gervinho grabbing an assist.
Coach Patrice Beaumelle’s charges did not take their foot off the pedal in stoppage time as they continued to attack and they extended their lead through Jeremie Boga.
The US Sassuolo attacking midfielder netted in the 95th minute to ensure that Ivory Coast claimed a well-deserved 3-0 victory and it was his maiden goal for the Elephants.