(CNN) -- Ivory Coast, the perennial underachiever of the Africa Cup of Nations, began the 2013 tournament with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Togo on Tuesday.
After suffering a shock defeat in last year's final by Zambia, "Les Elephants" are hoping to finally end a 21-year wait for the title in this month's competition in South Africa.
Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure put Ivory Coast ahead in front of a small crowd in Rustenberg to ensure he has now scored in four successive Africa Cup of Nations tournaments.
Jonathan Ayite leveled for Togo just before the break, but Arsenal forward Gervinho fired home a dramatic late winner to seal the points.
Although happy with the result, Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi was left disappointed with his team's showing and has urged his players to learn from the contest.
"I was expecting something better from us -- it wasn't our best performance," Lamouchi told reporters.
"I thought the first match was going to be difficult, but it was much harder than I was envisaging.
"I'm happy with the win, but we made too many mistakes, and will have to use this game as a lesson."
Togo coach Didier Six was still fuming at the decision of the referee to disallow his side's effort with the scores level at 1-1 and made a hasty exit from the press conference.
"I think my team deserved something else than that. It wasn't right, the rules weren't respected," He told reporters:
Togo, ranked 63 places below Ivory Coast, should have taken an early lead when Tottenham striker Emmanuel Adebayor raced clear on goal only to miss his kick and let Boubacar Barry save.
It was a mistake which was to be punished as Toure lashed home via a deflection to give Ivory Coast an eighth-minute lead.
The African player of the year went close to doubling his side's advantage when his rasping effort hit the woodwork, but Togo drew level with just seconds of the first half remaining.
Serge Akakpo's corner caused mayhem inside the penalty area and Ayite fired the ball home past a helpless Barry.
Togo's "Sparrowhawks" then thought they had taken the lead when Dare Nibombe headed home a quickly taken corner, but the referee disallowed the effort after deeming the set-piece had been taken before the whistle had been blown.
That frustration was further increased when Gervinho met Toure's free-kick at the far post to sweep home an 88th-minute winner.
In Tuesday's other match in Group D, Tunisia scored a 90th-minute winner to see off Algeria 1-0 at Rustenberg's Royal Bafokeng stadium.
Algeria dominated for much of the contest, but could not find a way through a stubborn Tunisia defense in the first meeting between the North African rivals in the tournament's 56-year history.
And with time running out, Youssef Msakni produced a breathtaking curling effort which flew into the net and spark wild celebrations.
Meanwhile, tournament organizers confirmed that Ethiopia has been fined $10,000 after its fans threw missiles onto the field of play during Monday's 1-1 draw with defending champion Zambia.
The incident took place after Ethiopia goalkeeper Jemal Tassew was shown a straight red card during the first half.
A statement on the tournament website read: "After the expulsion of the goalkeeper, the Ethiopian spectators threw all sort of missiles at the field of play (plastic bottles, vuvuzelas....etc).
"The Board decided to impose a financial sanction on Ethiopia amounting to $10,000, nevertheless, the board decided to suspend 5,000 USD on condition that Ethiopia is not found guilty of a similar offense until the end of the tournament (Article 83.3 of CAF Disciplinary Code)."