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Valiant effort from Burkina Faso nearly stuns Algeria in Blida, but Fennecs hang on for draw and advance to WCQ final round

Algeria’s African record unbeaten streak of 32 games and FIFA World Cup qualification hopes were in serious danger at times on Tuesday, but the hosts held on for a 2-2 draw against Burkina Faso to advance as Group A winners. Riyad Mahrez and Sofiane Feghouli put the Algerians on top with goals, but the Fennecs were under siege as a motivated Burkina Faso side nearly pulled off the shock and dominated for large stretches. The draw means Algeria finish top on fourteen points while Burkina Faso wrap up their campaign with twelve.

With Algeria scoring numerous goals and maintaining their unbeaten run with ease lately, nobody gave Les Étalons of Burkina Faso a chance in front of a large crowd in Blida. However, the fans were left to endure a tense ninety minutes and were quiet for large periods of the match. After exchanging looks on goal in the opening twenty minutes, it was the favored hosts who took the lead in the 21st minute. The influential Youcef Belaïli drove down the left wing and sent in a low cross that Baghdad Bounedjah let go by him before the ball rolled to a wide open Riyad Mahrez, who finished easily from six yards out.

After the opening goal for the hosts, it was remarkable how Burkina Faso took control of the match and how much the Algerians relaxed. In the 28th minute, left back Steeve Yago collected a ball on the wing and sent a low pass to Adama Guira, who set up Gustavo Sangaré for a shot in the penalty area that was well saved by Algerian keeper Raïs M’Bolhi. The Stallions would not be kept out for long though with Zakaria Sanogo leveling in the 37th minute after receiving a brilliant pass from Sangaré and finishing with a volleyed effort.

The Burkinabé side continued to dominate proceedings after the teams went in at halftime tied at 1-1. Sanogo was involved again in the 50th minute when some slick passing from the visitors led to him laying a pass off for Guira, whose shot was deflected on target but M’Bolhi did well to react and collect the ball.

With the Algerian crowd silenced by the long period of dominance from Burkina Faso, Belaïli came to the rescue and brought them back to life in the 68th minute. The Burkinabé defense was caught high up and a turnover led to Belaïli getting behind on the left wing again. The Qatar Sports Club attacker got to the end line before getting his head up and picking out a run from Sofiane Feghouli, who finished with a first time shot to wrap up a precision counter attack.

It seemed like going up 2-1 would relieve the stress for the hosts, but Burkina Faso made one last rally. In the 82nd minute, a long ball from Ibrahim Touré found Mohamed Konaté, who was tripped up in the Algerian penalty area by Djamel Benlamri before the referee awarded a penalty kick. Center back Issoufou Dayo stepped up and placed a perfect low penalty kick off the post and in to level the match once again. However, the Algerians were able to hold on without conceding any more opportunities as the visitors sent players forward for a last charge, and celebrated in relief once the final whistle blew.

Highlights of the thriller are in the link below.

Highlights from FIFA TV

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