Africa Cup of Nations

Ivory Coast 3-1 Algeria: Elephants rip apart Desert Warriors to set up Egypt date

21:35 EAT 20/01/2022
Ivory Coast celebrate in Afcon 2021.
Djamel Belmadi's charges exited the competition without a win after a disappointing show in Cameroon

Ivory Coast eliminated the Africa Cup of Nations defending champions, Algeria, after a 3-1 Group E victory in Douala on Thursday. 

Franck Kessie, Ibrahim Sangare and Nicolas Pepe scored for the Elephants, while Sofiane Bendebka got the North Africans a consolation goal. 

Jean Seri committed a rather easy foul on Baghdad Bounedjah in a very dangerous spot, but he was lucky when Algeria could not make use of the set-piece as Riyad Mahrez's delivery hit the wall in the opening minute. 

Pepe's shot was hit over the bar with his seventh-minute effort and consequently wasted a chance that could have broken the deadlock in favour of the Elephants. The Arsenal man was picked up in a promising area by Sangare, only for him to send his effort above the crossbar. 

Serge Aurier became the first player to be yellow-carded in the 11th minute as he conceded a free-kick when he elbowed Youcef Atal. Jean Seri cleared the set-piece just before Mohamed Benrahma could collect it. 

Bounedjah failed to make contact with an aerial cross delivered into the box in the 18th minute. The forward missed the ball as he attempted to take an overhead free-kick, and his miss meant another chance for the desperate reigning champions went unconverted. 

Kessie complicated Algeria's chances of progressing to the knockout phase when he scored in the 23rd minute. After good link-up play by Ivory Coast, the AC Milan man tapped home a fine cut-in by Pepe, with Algeria's goalkeeper Adi-Rais Mbolhi well beaten in the process. 

Mohamed Belaili's first touch in the 34th minute let him down as he failed to control the ball when he was clearly set through on goal by Aissa Mandi. Badra Sangare had an easy task collecting the loose ball as Algeria rued another rare chance lost. 

Industrious Ivory Coast doubled their lead in the 39th minute when Sangare's pinpoint header hit the bottom corner. Aurier delivered a perfect free-kick which an unmarked and rising Sangare met to head home. 

Aurier, who was dangerous going forward, could not extend his side's lead in the 50th minute when his low drive was blocked by Mbolhi as the West Africans started the second half at a high velocity. 

Algeria's hopes faded in the 54th minute when Pepe beautifully scored with a curling knee-high left-footed effort. The Arsenal forward picked up a pass from Haller before teasing his marker and firing past Mbolhi, who had almost no chance of stopping the ball from hitting his net. 

Algeria won a penalty in the 56th minute when Simon Deli tripped Belaili. Mahrez, however, could not score from the spot as he hit the left-hand side post even after Sangare flew in the opposite direction. 

Bendebka scored for the Desert Warriors in the 74th minute when the 2015 champions failed to clear their area from a corner situation. Mandi did well to keep the ball in play and his cross landed on Bendebka's path who scored to deny Ivory Coast a second clean sheet in the group. 

Kessie thought he had scored the fourth goal for his side in the 76th minute, but his celebration was cut short after the referee ruled that the AC Milan star was in an offside position. 

Haller also thought he had headed home the fourth goal for Ivory Coast after meeting Wilfried Zaha's cross in the third minute of added time. However, VAR ruled it out for offside. 

Meanwhile, Equatorial Guinea progressed to the knockout phase after a 1-0 win over Sierra Leone in Limbe. 

Pablo Ganet scored the only goal in the game in the 38th minute, helping Equatorial Guinea finish second with six points. 

Leone Stars exited the competition with just two points but they finished above Algeria in third position.