Eric Bailly's Ivory Coast start AFCON with 1-0 win over Equatorial Guinea

Manchester United defender Eric Bailly is currently at the Africa Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast.

Bailly went off injured in his last United game before his departure, the 3-1 victory over Burnley in December.

He was still deemed fit enough to travel for the tournament, and last night started the game as the Ivory Coast got their campaign underway.

The opponents were Equatorial Guinea and Bailly’s men won 1-0, thanks to a Max Gradel goal on five minutes. The United played the full 90 minutes as his side kept a clean sheet.

Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images

RONALDO NEEDS TO STOP WHINING.

How did Bailly get on?

As per SofaScore, Bailly made two clearances, a block and two interceptions to help preserve the clean sheet.

There was also a tackle and he was not dribbled past at any point in the match.

On the ball, he had 49 touches and was largely reliable in possession with an 83.3 per cent pass success rate.

Between four duels in the air and on the ground, Bailly only lost one and did not do an awful lot wrong as Ivory Coast got their tournament underway with a win.

That has proved beyond other big hitters such as Egypt, Algeria and Hannibal’s Tunisia so far. Tunisia’s 1-0 loss to MAli ended in refereeing controversy.

Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images

Reaction

Some United fans had their eye on Bailly on a night where the Red Devils were not playing and reacted to the central defender’s performance…

Bailly’s performance came amid links with AC Milan, who are reportedly keen on loaning him in before the end of the transfer window.

It remains to be seen whether Bailly can conduct negotiations over his future while he is away at an international tournament.

Bailly could be away until February 9 if the Ivory Coast make it all the way to the final, which may provide a stumbling block.

Sky Sports are also reporting that United are unlikely to let Bailly leave on loan, having tied him down to a new contract last April to preserve his transfer value in the event they sell him.

Bailly’s future may remain uncertain but it was definitely a strong way to start his bid for international glory.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.