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Cote D'Ivoire dispatch defending champions Algeria from Cup of Nations

By Paul Myers - RFI
Algeria  Pierre Ren-Worms
JAN 20, 2022 LISTEN
Pierre Ren-Worms

Cote D'Ivoire swept past the defending champions Algeria 3-1 on Thursday to claim top spot in Group E and consign the defending champions to a humiliating first round exit.

No title holder has been dispatched from the competition after the pool stages since Zambia in 2013.

Algeria, after an opening day draw with Sierra Leone and a 1-0 defeat to Equatorial Guinea, entered the clash in Douala aware that only victory would give them a chance of holding on to their crown.

Djamel Belmadi's men started brightly but the Ivorians took the lead mid way through the first-half.

Nicolas Pépé broke down the right wing and cut the ball back for Frank Kessie to sidefoot past the Algeria goalkeeper Rais M'Bolhi.

Just before the pause Patrice Baumelle's men doubled their advantage though Ibrahim Sangare.

Intent
And they came out after the break determined to administer the coup de grace. It came in the 54th minute with a flourish.

Pépé drove towards goal feinted to the right and curled his left-footed strike into the right hand corner of M'Bohli's goal.

Cue Ivorian jubilation and Algerian anguish. That misery was compounded when Algeria skipper Riyad Mahrez failed to convert a penalty after an hour.

The Manchester City striker's shot cannoned off the left post and away to safety.

Sofiane Bendebka eventually found the net for Algeria - their first goal of the tournament. But with 17 minutes remaining after the strike, the comeback ran out of time.

Cote D'Ivoire advance to a meeting on 26 January with Egypt in Douala.

Equatorial Guinea, who beat Sierra Leone 1-0, finish as runners-up and will play the winner of Group F on the same day in Limbé.

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