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Zambia stun Algeria in World Cup qualifying; Senegal held by Burkina Faso

03:59 GMT+3 03/09/2017
Ramy Bensebaini Algeria
The Fennecs are all but eliminated from next summer’s showpiece, while the Ivory Coast boosted their hopes in Gabon

Algeria’s hopes of reaching a third consecutive World Cup are in tatters after Lucas Alcaraz’s side were handed a shock 3-1 defeat in Zambia on Saturday, while the Ivory Coast improved their prospects of reaching Russia with a 3-0 victory away at Gabon.

In Group D, Senegal missed the opportunity to capitalise on South Africa’s defeat by Cape Verde after being held 0-0 by Burkina Faso, with Kalidou Koulibaly sent off for the hosts.

Algeria headed into the World Cup qualifying campaign as one of Africa’s top sides, but their hopes of reaching the global showpiece were dented by a testing draw, Nigeria’s renaissance and a sluggish start to the campaign.

Now, they find themselves staring into the abyss after Brian Mwila’s double and Enock Mwepu’s late strike handed them a 3-1 defeat in Lusaka.

Mwila leapt above the Algerian defence to head home a cross after six minutes, and then tapped home 26 minutes later after Rais M’Bolhi spilled the ball into his path.

Yacine Brahimi pulled one back for the North African giants with a fine effort from just outside the area in the 55th minute, but Algeria were unable to profit from Fashion Sakala’s red card a minute later after a second yellow card.

Mwepu killed the contest in the 88th minute with a goal on the counter to take Zambia up to second in Group B on four points, five behind leaders Nigeria. Algeria, on one point, must win their remaining games and hope the Super Eagles lose at least two matches if they’re to stand any chance of progressing.

Ivory Coast were another side apparently on the brink of a meltdown after an underwhelming start to Marc Wilmots’ tenure and a disappointing first-round exit from the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year.

However, they responded superbly in Gabon—against another dysfunctional outfit—with Max Gradel opening the scoring in the 53rd minute and Seydou Doumbia striking twice to inflict a big loss on the Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang-less Panthers.

The win takes the Elephants back up to top spot in Group C, two points ahead of Morocco following the Atlas Lions’ 6-0 demolition of bottom-club Mali on Friday.

Group D remains the tightest of all five groups after Burkina Faso held Senegal in Dakar on Saturday, with only two points separating the Stallions in top spot and fourth-placed Cape Verde.

The islanders downed South Africa 2-1 in Praia on Friday, handing the Lions of Teranga the opportunity to take top spot.

However, they lacked character and were frustrated by a resolute Stallions side, and lost Koulibaly to a red card six minutes from time. His absence could cost Aliou Cisse’s side when they travel to Ouagadougou for the return match against Burkina Faso—seeking their maiden ticket to a World Cup—on Tuesday.