The victory took Les Elephants to seven points, four ahead of Cameroon who face Mozambique later Friday.
Gradel scored in the 36th minute with a well taken shot on the half volley after skipper Serge Aurier’s cross from the right evaded an attempted headed clearance from Malawi defender Stanley Sanudi.
The Ivorians had done well in possession though this was their first shot at goal. Prior to that, Malawi had threatened with Peter Banda seeing his well taken shot saved by the keeper after twisting and turning away from Aurier.
In the second half, Malawi were an improved side and they had good opportunities to draw level. Khuda Muyaba had a shot from the left saved by the keeper two minutes after the restart as The Flames started off faster off the blocks.
Four minutes later, Gabadinho Mhango had a glorious chance when he ran on to a long ball and with the keeper out of his line, lobbed the ball over him. However, the effort could only land on the roof of the net.
Mhango had another chance in the 65th minute with a well taken volley but he shot straight at the keeper. Towards the end, the Ivorians upped the tempo to seal the game and were denied by the upright in the 79th minute. A well worked move saw Franck Kessie put through on the right but his shot stung the woodwork. However, five minutes later off the same flank, they were 2-0 up when substitute Gervinho sent Sangare through, the latter striking a decent shot into the net. They cemented the lead in the fifth minute of added time when Boga did well to find space at the edge of the box and fire a left footed belter past the keeper.
Published/Updated on 08/10/[email protected]:00