Ivory Coast close to qualifying for Brazil after beating Senegal
October 12, 2013 -- Updated 2110 GMT (0510 HKT)
Gervinho, left, disappointed for Arsenal but he has flourished at Roma and led the Ivory Coast to a win against Senegal.
- Ivory Coast beats Senegal 3-1 in the first leg of their football playoff in Africa
- Papiss Cisse's goal well into injury time gives Senegal some hope in the return leg
- The second leg will be played in Morocco because of a stadium ban in Senegal
- Burkina Faso edged Algeria 3-2 in the other playoff first leg contested Saturday
(CNN) -- Gervinho's unsuccessful spell at Arsenal came to an end last summer when he was sold to Roma.
The winger is now flourishing in Serie A and carried over his form to the international stage Saturday as he led the Ivory Coast to a 3-1 win over Senegal in the first leg of their playoff tie.
He played a role in all three goals in Abidjan, earning a penalty that Didier Drogba converted in the fifth minute.
His good ball led to an own goal in the 14th minute and he assisted on Salomon Kalou's effort that made it 3-0 in the 50th.
But Papiss Cisse's goal deep into injury time left Senegal with slight hope of appearing at the World Cup for the first time since bursting onto the scene in 2002.
Senegal, however, won't have full home-field advantage in the return leg, playing next month's match in Morocco because of a stadium ban in Dakar.
The ban was imposed after an African Cup of Nations qualifier between Senegal and the Ivory Coast last year was cut short due to crowd trouble.
The winner of the tie earns a place at next year's World Cup in Brazil and the Ivory Coast -- which lined up in Germany in 2006 and South Africa in 2010 -- will be expected to complete the job.
There was controversy in the other African playoff contested Saturday.
Burkina Faso, which has never featured at the World Cup, converted a late penalty to edge visitor Algeria 3-2.
To the disbelief of the Algerians, Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe awarded the spot kick for Essaid Belkalem's handball, which didn't appear to be deliberate.
Algerian players protested but the call stood and Aristide Bancé -- who missed a penalty in the first half -- broke the deadlock in the 86th minute.
Algeria had twice come back in Ouagadougou.
On Sunday, Ethiopia hosts Nigeria and Tunisia entertains Cameroon. Egypt visits Ghana on Tuesday.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
After 20 years, more than 300 goals and a host of major honors, Thierry Henry has called time on his glittering football career.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1014 GMT (1814 HKT)
They do things differently at Sociedad Deportiva Eibar, up in the mist-cloaked valleys of the Basque country. And it is working.
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
He might be struggling to score goals for Liverpool, but Mario Balotelli's cheeky tweet about the British monarch hit the spot during the World Cup.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1348 GMT (2148 HKT)
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1622 GMT (0022 HKT)
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1411 GMT (2211 HKT)
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1819 GMT (0219 HKT)
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1247 GMT (2047 HKT)
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2241 GMT (0641 HKT)
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
October 10, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.