The Fennec Foxes of Algeria are the second big name to be sent back home empty handed from the group stages of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations after crashing 4-1 to Ivory Coast on Thursday evening.
Djamel Belmadi’s men came into the game on the back of a shocking 1-0 loss to Equatorial Guinea which ended their 35-game unbeaten run while Ivory Coast were denied victory by a late-minute howler from their goalkeeper to draw 2-2 against Sierra Leone.
Franck Kessie opened scoring for the Elephants before Ibrahim Sangare added a second. Nicolas Pepe pulled in for the third to confirm victory before the hour mark before Sofiane Bendebka netted a consolation. Riyadh Mahrez also hit the woodwork with his penalty attempt from 12 yards.
The first quarter of the encounter didn’t see much fireworks as Ramy Bensebaini’s attempt was the only threat from both sides during the cagey opening.
However Ivory Coast ejected life into the game 23 minutes in as Nicolas Pepe who had been played in on the right cut-back the ball for an arriving Franc Kessie who then volleyed deftly into the corner.
Five minutes before the second half Ibrahim Sangare pulled Ivory Coast away from sight as he headed home the second.
Serge Aurier’s superb delivery from a free-kick met the head of Sangare who sent it home from six yards.
Algeria were undone in the 55th minute as Arsenal’ Nicolas Pepe after a beautiful ball communication in the middle of the park strolled into the 18-yard box all alone before sending his curler into the far left corner of Algeria’s goal.
On the hour mark, Algeria got a penalty which could have restored their hopes of salvaging something from the game. It was a penalty won for a foul by Simon Deli, but while Mahrez sent the goalkeeper the wrong way, his shot struck the post and flew away to safety.
Bendebka scored from close-range on 73 minutes for a consolation after latching on from Aissa Mandi’s deft pass across the goal. The goal was Algeria’s first and only goal in the competition.
Ivory Coast could have added a fourth in the extra minutes after stoppage time but Sebastien Haller was clearly offside while nodding home a fien cross.
It will be recalled that Algeria while trying to defend their first Afcon title (Algiers’90) in 1994 crashed out of the group stage to Cote d’Ivoire following a 3-0 loss.
Ivory Coast are accompanied in the second round by Equatorial Guinea (six points), whose 1-0 victory over Sierra Leone eliminated the latter.