Cote d'Ivoire 2-3 Algeria: Fennecs Oust Elephants In Thriller

The Fennecs completed a miraculous comeback to knock out the tournament favorites and book their place in the final four of the AFCON.

Cote d’Ivoire 2-3 Algeria Lineups/Stats
African Cup of Nations Fixtures, Results

The match pitting two World Cup bound teams began with both coaches putting forth different lineups than they did in their last group encounters. On the Elephants side, Guy Demel was in for the suspended Emmanuel Eboue while Algeria’s ranks were reinforced by the return of Antar Yahia in the centre of defence.

After an opening few minutes where Algeria were passing the ball about confidently, it was the Ivorians who surprised everyone by scoring on their first attack of the game. Salomon Kalou was put through clear on goal when Toure Yaya’s effort was deflected off of Madjid Bougherra. The Chelsea forward didn’t refuse the gift and scored easily from close range.

That early opener ensured that the game would not be a cagey affair since the North Africans pressed on to get back on level terms while Cote d’Ivoire searched for the killer blow. The Fennecs’ willingness to go forward was leaving space at the back that was not taken advantage of by their opponents who, nevertheless, looked the more dangerous of the two sides.

A mix up in midfield then led to an Ivorian counter that could have ended in a penalty kick for a foul on Didier Drogba, but the Seychellian referee thought otherwise. Algeria then gained more and more possession as time went on thanks to some good play from Karim Ziani but they weren’t testing Boubacar Copa Barry on most of their attacks.

In the 31st minute they finally gave him some trouble when he had to go full stretch to intercept an inviting Belhadj cross. However, on the 39th minute Algeria finally got a clear chance on goal and, just like their opponents did, they scored on their first attempt. Karim Matmour did the honors as he got on the end of a long ball and unleashed an unstoppable shot from just inside the penalty area.

During the final minutes of the period, both teams traded attacks with neither being able to reap goals from their respective opportunities and the half finished on a 1-1 scoreline.

After the break, it was Algeria that got off the blocks quicker thanks to a blunder from Tiene that could have been costly, but the danger was cleared into a corner kick. The Elephants replied with a counter attack on the next play launched by the lively Gervinho however Kalou could not get the better of Yazid Mansouri.

Matmour could have doubled his goal account in the 54th minute when Mourad Meghni found him with a delightful chip pass however his attempt at a full volley flew well over the crossbar. Shortly after Matmour set up Mansouri for a long range shot that also missed the frame.

Saloman Kalou almost put his team back on top after erasing two defenders off the dribble but he saw his strike go to the wrong side of Chaouchi’s post. He and Gervinho were looking the most likely to make the difference as both were causing Algerian defenders great difficulty every time they got the ball.

The game was a balanced affair but Matmour should have put his team ahead when he pounced on a mistake in central defence and was one on one with Barry, yet the glovesman was equal to the shot.

As the game entered the final 10 minutes, Halilhodzic put on Kader Keita for Kalou in search of better offensive solutions. The Galatasaray player made an instant impact by bamboozling two Algerian players in his own half before expertly releasing Gervinho into space, but the Lille player put his shot over the crossbar despite only having the keeper to beat.

Keita took initiative once more shortly later, this time deciding to shoot from 35 yards and managing to score what may well turn out to be the goal of the tournament. As if that wasn’t dramatic enough, Algeria equalized almost immediately after when Bougherra was found by Belhadj in front of Barry’s goal.

Extra time got underway with Hameur Bouazza replacing Mourad Meghni in the Fennecs’ lineup while Cote d’Ivoire’s team was unchanged. The move proved to be a masterstroke as the substitute was the one to score on a header after an inch perfect cross from Ziani. Halilhodzic then made his final change of the night, replacing Zokora with Aruna Dindane in the hopes of getting back on level terms.

Didier Drogba came close to getting on the score sheet but Chaouchi did well to parry his thunderous drive. The goalkeeper aggravated a pre-existing injury on the play and seemed like he was going to be substituted but then decided he wanted to play on and fight through the pain.

When the second fifteen minute period kicked off, it was Algeria that ended up wasting the knockout punch on two successive plays, the first of which Abdelkader Ghezzal contrived to miss a volley from point blank range.

The West Africans were struggling as they had no choice but to push most of their players forward but that was playing right into Algeria’s counter attacking strategy. Chaouchi was once again injured and a lengthy stoppage in play ensued during which he was accused of time wasting by some of his opponents.

Kolo Toure then scored an equalizer in stoppage time that was incorrectly ruled offside by the linesman to cap off a dramatic evening in Cabinda that eventually saw Algeria reach its first continental Semi Final in ten years.