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Côte d'Ivoire v Algeria

Reigning champions Algeria shockingly eliminated from Afcon after Ivory Coast rout

21:02 GMT+3 20/01/2022
Mahrez Algeria Afcon 2022
The incumbent holders were knocked out in stunning fashion on Thursday

Algeria have been eliminated from the Africa Cup of Nations following a 3-1 rout at the hands of the Ivory Coast in Douala, ending the reigning champions' defence at the first hurdle.

The incumbent holders, who arrived at the delayed Cameroon 2021 edition having claimed their second tournament title at Egypt 2019, were among the heavy favourites to challenge for the top prize once again.

But instead they will face a humiliating early flight home after Riyad Mahrez and the rest of the Fennec Foxes failed to claim a single win in Group E in underwhelming fashion.

How did it go so wrong for champions?

Having been seeded as the top side in their group and with the third-best FIFA ranking in the tournament behind Senegal and Morocco, Djamel Belmadi's side were expected to make easy work of their path to the knockout stages.

Yet a goalless opening draw with Sierra Leone set the tone for an unlikely fall from grace, with Algeria then edged by Equatorial Guinea - one of the lowest-ranked sides in the tournament - thanks to Esteban Obiang's second-half finish in a 1-0 defeat.

The result meant that they needed to produce a win in their final group game to have any chance of qualification, either as one of the top-two sides or as one of the four best-ranked third-place finishers - only for the Ivory Coast to ensure that their road to redemption came to a juddering halt.

Sofiane Bendebka's finish with a quarter-hour to play at least meant that Algeria did not leave AFCON without a goal to their name, but nevertheless, their poor showing remains one of the most dramatic early exits in recent tournament memory.

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