That's a wrap, folks. It's late, very late. But that game was worth staying up for. We're back later for live text commentary on three more games - Switzerland v Ecuador, France v Honduras and Argentina against Bosnia-Hercegovina. Until then. . .
BBC World Service reporter John Bennett in Recife: "Ivory Coast win their opening match at a World Cup for the first time in their history. They've never reached the knockout phase but a place in the last 16 is now within their grasp. He may not have had a hand in the goals, but Didier Drogba's entrance into the game seemed to inspire his team mates and intimidate Japan.
"Head coach Sabri Lamouchi will be under huge pressure to pick the 36-year-old in the starting eleven in their next match against Colombia. But can he really drop Wilfried Bony, who scored the equaliser?
"Serge Aurier had a slow start but set up both goals from right-back and looks a star in the making. Japan qualified for this World Cup with ease but a poor second half performance means they're in serious trouble. They surely have to beat Greece to stand any chance of making it to through the group."
Martin: Yaya Toure very quiet in this game, could easily see Ivory Coast progress from the group, especially if he shows up.
That was a great game. Don't believe me? Then why not judge for yourself. Highlights are now available to watch. Go to the 'Live Coverage' tab at the top of this page and click. Trust me, it's worth it.
Celebrations break out on the pitch and in the stands as Ivory Coast seal a deserved comeback victory.
Ivory Coast will certainly feel they should have scored more goals but they seem content to run down the clock now. Didier Ya Konan wants treatment after crashing to the ground following a challenge. There's a lengthy stoppage as he is carried off the pitch on a stretcher.
Four minutes of added time. It's now or never for Japan.
They have never advanced past the group stages in the World Cup, but Ivory Coast are moments away from a win that will leave them well positioned to reach the knockout phase in Brazil. Japan started brightly but have faded badly in the rain in Recife.
If anything it is Ivory Coast who look the more likely to score as the game enters the closing stages. Another chance for Drogba whose low, powerful, goal-bound attempt is deflected wide by Masato Morishige.
BBC World Service reporter John Bennett in Recife: "Serge Aurier's transfer fee may just have increased during this game. The Toulouse right-back has impressed with two assists. Arsene Wenger will be wishing he'd got his cheque book out before the World Cup. I'm sure other clubs - apart from Arsenal - will be interested in the 21 year-old."
Drogba is eager to make a goalscoring impact. The Ivory Coast substitute curls a free-kick from 20 yards around the Japan wall but Eiji Kawashima is equal to his effort.
Andy, Cannock: Brilliant from Ivory Coast but Japan are still in this. Didier Drogba's impact as a sub is astounding. He's lifted the whole team.
Ivory Coast's noisy fans rise to their feet as Wilfried Bony makes way for Didier Ya Konan. Japan are beginning to run out of time. They need something special. Is this Shinji Kagawa's moment?
What a cracking match. Didier Drogba's introduction has clearly lifted his team-mates and Japan, having looked so comfortable, now have it all to do. The Africans have lost Arthur Boka to injury. Can Japan take advantage in the final 15 minutes?
BBC World Service reporter John Bennett in Recife: "What a comeback by Ivory Coast and is it a coincidence that it happened straight after Didier Drogba came on? Head coach Sabri Lamouchi has been criticised but his decision to keep Wilfried Bony on, when he brought Drogba on to the pitch, looks inspired. Gervinho has been a different player since he signed for Roma and was inspirational in Ivory Coast's qualifiers. He could be the hero. Ivory Coast have never won their opening match at a World Cup."
Amazing. Absolutely amazing. They have been trailing for most of the match but Ivory Coast are suddenly in front after another fine delivery by Serge Aurier allows former Arsenal forward Gervinho to head past Eiji Kawashima. The Japan goalkeeper will feel he should have done better after a fumbled attempt at a save. But the Africans don't care. They're delirious.
Wilfried Bony can count himself fortunate to still be on the pitch after a string of misses but the Swansea man finally delivers his side's equaliser, a glancing header from Serge Aurier's excellent cross. Ivory Coast are right back in this.Copyright: AFP
Tom: With Didier Zokora and Salomon Kalou in the Ivorian team, the Elephants will be heading home soon.
Shane: Japan are a fine team and they are showing up all these people who wrote them off. Defensively solid, with great creativity.
Joey: What I want to know is why some of the Japanese players have odd boots?
A huge roar goes up as Didier Drogba finally enters the action. Can the former Chelsea man rescue his country? Off goes Serey Die.Copyright: AFP/GETTY
Controversy. Southampton's Maya Yoshida, who has already been booked, challenges Yaya Toure inside the Japan area and the powerful Ivory Coast man crumples to the ground. No penalty. Replays show the referee was right but Yaya is unhappy and lets the official know all about it.
Ivory Coast boss Sabri Lamouchi needs to do something. Japan's lead might be narrow but they are looking very comfortable.
Japan might be leading but Ivory Coast are well ahead when it comes to chances created. What's this? The game's first substitution is about to be made. But Didier Drogba stays where he is as Japan captain Makoto Hasebe paves the way for Yasuhito Endo's arrival.
New half, same old Ivory Coast. It would appear Wilfried Bony has left his scoring boots behind in Swansea as he wastes another golden chance. Can someone get them to him before the final whistle? That latest miss prompts movement on the bench as Didier Drogba starts warming up on the sidelines.
No Didier Drogba yet for Ivory Coast. We're back under way in Recife.
Bob, Bristol: What a luxury to watch such a game at such a ridiculous hour.
BBC World Service reporter John Bennett in Recife: "Ivory Coast have wasted their chances so surely it won't be too long before former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba is sent on to try to change the game. It would be his sixth World Cup match and he'll be looking for his third World Cup goal.
"The Ivorian fans are still confident; they haven't stopped singing and dancing during this game. As for Japan, their Italian coach Alberto Zaccheroni will be delighted. Ivory Coast are struggling to cope with the likes of Keisuke Honda, and Yaya Toure hasn't been allowed to dominate the game."
Chibuzo: Ivory Coast are piling the pressure on Japan. Final ball is lacking.
Hilary: Ivory Coast's poor touches are letting them down. They are becoming as mediocre as Cameroon.
Andrew Tarpy: If Japan can get the ball near the Ivory Coast box you feel they can score more with Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda.
BBC World Service reporter John Bennett in Recife: "He's one of the youngest head coaches at this World Cup and Sabri Lamouchi is under real pressure at half-time. He knows what's coming if Ivory Coast lose this game - questions will be asked about why he dropped Didier Drogba despite the fact that he was arguably his most impressive player in the warm-up matches."
So, the first country to book their plane ticket to Brazil are ahead at the interval. Alberto Zaccheroni's side deserve their lead but you sense there's more goals in this. Certainly if Ivory Coast can discover a cutting edge.
Arthur Boka is a defender who likes to get forward. He's had as many chances as Ivory Coast's forward line and his latest effort is well held by Eiji Kawashima. Half-time is imminent.
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And another chance goes begging. This time Salomon Kalou is left looking sheepish as his free header from the edge of the six-yard area is nodded high and wide. Dear oh dear.
There's a band playing inside the ground. Lots of trumpets, drums and horns. The noise levels increase as Wilfried Bony lashes another chance over the bar. The Africans need to start making these chances count.
So close for Ivory Coast. Japan keeper Eiji Kawashima does well to beat out Arthur Boka's fierce drive and the balls falls for Wilfried Bony. But Gervinho is in an offside position as the Swansea forward attempts to force the ball over the line.
Garry, Manchester: Japan have an excellent, balanced midfield with Kagawa, Endo and Honda creating and Makoto Hasebe holding. They also have a pair of good scorers in Okazaki and the emerging Kakitani. If they handle the physical presence of Bony up front, Japan have a real chance.
Still awake? This is actually another decent game. Have we seen a bad match yet at this tournament? Ivory Coast's muscle is causing the Japanese defence problems but the Asian champions look dangerous on the break with their pace.
Ahmer: The Ivory Coast goalie looks nervous. Japan could get a second here.
John: I thought Japan would cause problems early on until it settled down, I bet Drogba has said to the coach "put me on".
Ian: Honda 'motors' into the area and 'drives' home a wonderful finish. Some 'engine' on that man.
Very good, Ian. Japan were certainly in a different gear early on.
Yaya Toure seems to be on a one-man mission to haul Ivory Coast back into this. A surging run by the Manchester City man causes major panic in the Japanese defence. Toure had earlier blazed over from a free-kick before teeing up a chance for Salomon Kalou which is spurned. Japan have the lead but for how much longer?
John Bennett, BBC World Service reporter in Recife: "Between them, Ivory Coast's front three - Wilfried Bony, Gervinho and Salomon Kalou - scored 50 goals last season.
"Behind them, Yaya Toure scored 24 goals for Manchester City. So they should have enough firepower to get back into this game.
"Yet again though, they've been let down by their Achilles heel - defending. Sol Bamba and Didier Zokora have never convinced as a centre-back pairing. Kolo Toure will be extremely frustrated to have been left on the bench."
How will Ivory Coast respond to falling behind? Well, not very well actually. Schalke's Atsuto Uchida dances past one African defender before unleashing a powerful shot from inside the area that Boubacar Barry blocks. Japan are well on top. And Didier Drogba has still to crack a smile on the substitutes bench.
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Take a bow Keisuke Honda. The World Cup is just a few days old and we've already seen some great goals - and that was right up there with them. Japan have started slowly but suddenly Honda receives the ball on the edge of the Ivory Coast area and buries the ball in a flash past Boubacar Barry. The number four was afforded plenty of time and space. But it was still a special finish.
The Blue Samurai have yet to seriously threaten the orange-shirted African defence. The rain is falling heavily as Cheik Tiote clatters into Shinji Okazaki at express train speed. That will have hurt.
Micky: I really fancy Japan to get out of this group. Keisuke Honda hasn't sparked for AC Milan but for his country he's a beast.
There's a huge din inside Arena Pernambuco as the fans gets behind their teams. The African drums are beating in Recife. There's also plenty of neutrals and a sprinkling of yellow Brazil shirts on display.Copyright: AFP/GETTY
Didier Drogba looks unhappy to say the least sat on the substitutes bench but Ivory Coast have started well without their star man. Another swift attack sees Gervinho tee up Wilfried Bony whose powerful goal-bound shot is deflected behind by Masato Morishige. Great start by the Africans.Copyright: Getty Images
It is actually raining in Recife and both sides are finding it a struggle to stay on their feet. Cheik Tiote bursts forward for Ivory Coast and his threaded pass allows Salomon Kalou to deliver a dangerous cross intended for Gervinho which is headed out for a corner.
Ivory Coast get this one under way.
Wale: This is the time for the Ivoirians to change the label of perennial underachievers.
There's plenty of Japan fans in! A belting anthem. Short, emotional. In contrast, the Ivory Coast anthem is a rousing marching affair that includes the lyrics "the fatherland of true brotherhood". The players are pumped. We're set to go...
- Copyright: BBCCopyright: BBC
Ivory Coast: Barry, Aurier, Bamba, Zokora, Boka, Tiote, Yaya Toure, Die, Gervinho, Bony, Kalou. Subs: Gbohouo, Viera, Kolo Toure, Bolly, Akpa Akpro, Drogba, Konan, Diomande, Gradel, Djakpa, Sio, Sayouba.
Japan: Kawashima, Uchida, Morishige, Yoshida, Nagatomo, Yamaguchi, Hasebe, Okazaki, Honda, Kagawa, Osako. Subs: Nishikawa, Gotoku Sakai, Endo, Kiyotake, Kakitani, Okubo, Aoyama, Konno, Inoha, Saito, Hiroki Sakai, Gonda.
Referee: Enrique Osses (Chile)
BBC World Service reporter John Bennett in Recife: "Arsenal fans will have a keen eye on Ivory Coast right-back Serge Aurier. Open secret that Arsene Wenger is interested."
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Who fancies Ivory Coast then? No African country has won the World Cup but can the likes of Yaya Toure, Kolo Toure, Wilfried Bony and Cheik Tiote inspire the Elephants to progress from the group stage for the first time?
They could face England, Italy or Uruguay if they do. How far can they go? Any Japan fans fancy an upset? Can the Blue Samurai put their opponents to the sword?
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Any England fans still up? The Three Lions might have been beaten by Italy in their opening group game, but you can watch Daniel Sturridge's goal online. The match has been added to both the England v Italy live page and this one. Go to the 'Live Coverage' tab to watch it all again and again and again. Despite the result, it's still worth a look.
Where is this game being played?
Arena Pernambuco, RecifeCopyright: Getty Images
Opened: May 2013.
Location: Built from scratch, the ground is located in Sao Lourenco da Mata some 14 miles from Recife's downtown area.
Approximate distance from Rio: 1,162 miles.
Where is it? North east Brazil. Located where the Beberibe River meets the Capibaribe River to flow into the Atlantic Ocean. It is a major port on the Atlantic Ocean.
Fixtures: 20 June - Italy v Costa Rica; 23 June - Croatia v Mexico; 26 June - USA v Germany; 29 June - Group D first placed team v Group C second placed team.
Background: Partly because of the distance from the city, local teams were reluctant to accept the stadium as their home ground. Nautico, the smallest of Recife's very popular teams, will be based there after the World Cup.
Japan have managed to keep only one clean sheet in their last nine matches.
Ivory Coast are aiming for a first appearance in the knockout stages at their third World Cup, while Japan have twice made the last 16 in their four finals.
Previous meetings: Japan and Ivory Coast have met three times, all friendly matches, with Japan winning twice and losing once.
Ivory Coast's 42-year-old manager Sabri Lamouchi is the second youngest boss at the World Cup, only a month older than Croatia's Niko Kovac.
BBC World Service reporter John Bennett in Recife: "Big surprise to see striker Didier Drogba on the bench. The 36 year-old is an icon off the pitch in Ivory Coast and on it he's scored 65 goals in 101 appearances. It's a brave selection by head coach Sabri Lamouchi who is obviously impressed by Wilfried Bony's form for Swansea this season. The player to watch in the Ivory Coast side is young right-back Serge Aurier - strongly linked with a move to Arsenal this summer."
In the Ivory Coast's brief World Cup history - this is their third tournament - their only three defeats have come against Brazil, Argentina and the Netherlands. In contrast, the teams blocking their progress from Group C - Colombia, Japan and Greece - have cumulatively reached the last 16 on just three occasions. As Didier Drogba, who is on the substitutes bench for this game, freely admits: "Competing at the previous two tournaments was very difficult. We have a realistic chance to do better in Brazil and get beyond the group stage."
It's mid-morning Sunday in Tokyo, the early hours in West Africa while it's still Saturday night in Brazil, and Ivory Coast and Japan are just 20 minutes away from the start of their World Cup campaigns. Both sides are out warming up, with Japan captain Makoto Hasebe soaking up the atmosphere.
The 30-year-old was also skipper at the 2010 World Cup, when the team was denied a quarter-final place after losing to Paraguay on penalties. Hasebe responded to that deflating experience by writing a highly successful book entitled 'How To Straighten Your Mind', a process the midfielder likens to tuning a piano. Will he be penning another self-help novel after Brazil?
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In the opening game in Group C earlier, Colombia comfortably overcame Greece 3-0 as the South American nations continued their strong start to the World Cup. An early Pablo Armero (pictured second left) strike set them on the way, with Teofilo Gutierrez and James Rodriguez also scoring.
If you've just back from a night out, having trouble sleeping or a football obsessive, we're 25 minutes from the start of the eighth game of what is already a fascinating tournament. The South American countries, unsurprisingly, are off to a flying start and few give Africa's five participants much hope of causing a stir in Brazil.
But can Ivory Coast's now grey-ish golden generation enjoy what could be their last World Cup? Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure and Kolo Toure - who have a combined age of 100 - have all achieved greatness at club level. But their international careers remain largely unfulfilled.
Yaya Toure is fit to start for Ivory Coast after a thigh injury but forward Didier Drogba drops to the bench, with Swansea City's Wilfried Bony coming in. Japan, who have kept only one clean sheet in their last nine matches, include Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa.
Ivory Coast: Barry, Aurier, Boka, Tiote, Bamba, Zokora, Y Toure, Die, Bony, Gervinho, Kalou. Subs: Diarrassouba, K Toure, Bolly, Akpa-Akpro, Drogba, Ya Konan, Diomande, Gradel, Gbohouo, Djakpa, Sio, Mande.
Japan: Kawashima, Uchida, Nagatomo, Hasebe, Morishige, Yoshida, Okazaki, Yamaguchi, Osako, Honda, Kagawa. Subs: Sakai, Endo, Kiyotake, Kakitani, Nishikawa, Okubo, Aoyama, Konno, Inoha, Saito, Sakai, Gonda.
Referee: Enrique Osses (Chile).
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What's that I hear you say? More? You're craving yet more World Cup drama? Three back-to-back games in the last nine hours not enough? Then all hail the tournament organisers for scheduling this middle-of-the-night nugget from Brazil.
It's Japan versus Ivory Coast, the Elephants against the Blue Samurai, the clash of the Asian and African powerhouses. Two teams who know how to get to a World Cup but are prone to freezing on the big stage. Can either warm to the stifling conditions in Recife?
Influential Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure is doubtful with a thigh injury that prevented him from playing in their warm-up games, and could be replaced by Basel's Serey Die.
Toure's elder brother Kolo is available after recovering from malaria.
Japan captain Makoto Hasebe is fit after a long-term knee problem but faces competition from Hotaru Yamaguchi for a midfield starting spot.
Defenders Maya Yoshida and Atsuto Uchida have also recently returned from lengthy absences and will play.