Keisuke Honda had put the Asian champions in front with a rasping drive at the Pernambuco Arena, but the second-half introduction of Didier Drogba from the bench signalled the start of the Ivory Coast fightback.

Bony and Gervinho were the goalscorers though, both heading in right-wing crosses from Serge Aurier to give the Elephants the ideal start to their World Cup campaign.

The result sees the Ivory Coast join Colombia -- who beat Greece 3-0 earlier in the day in Belo Horizonte -- on three points at the top of Group C, and Sabri Lamouchi's side must face the South Americans next in Brasilia on Thursday, while Japan next take on Greece.