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Algeria’s humiliation completed in Cameroon by inspired Ivory Coast

Franck Kessié, Ibrahim Sangaré and Nicolas Pépé all scored in a complete performance by Ivory Coast on Thursday as Les Éléphants ran wild in a 3-1 victory over Algeria at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. The result ensures that there will be a new African champion crowned in Cameroon after Algeria’s elimination was confirmed at the group stage. Ivory Coast advance as the winners of Group E and will face Egypt in the Round of 16 next Wednesday.

The match had a tense start with few early opportunities that suggested a close match was coming between two prestigious teams in African football. However, even after Ismaël Bennacer hit the near post after receiving a short corner kick in the 21st minute, it soon became apparent that the Ivorians wanted the win more than the Fennecs. Arsenal forward Nicolas Pépé looked particularly inspired and he created the opening goal a minute later. Playing a combination with Max Gradel sent Pépé down the right side of the Algerian penalty area before he cut back to find a charging Kessié for the finish.

A lack of focus from an Algeria team that never looked themselves in Cameroon led to a second goal for the Elephants before halftime. In the 39th minute, Sangaré lost marker Ramiz Zerrouki far too easily and leaped up to head a Serge Aurier free kick in past Algeria keeper Raïs M’Bolhi. The two-goal halftime lead was more than deserved as Algeria once again played another poor first half.

Ivory Coast picked up right where they left off after the break. Before ten minutes were up in the second half it was the Elephants who put themselves beyond reach with a third goal. The Algerian midfield was overrun once again as Ivory Coast striker Sebastien Haller got by a defender before laying off to a wide open Pépé on the right wing. Pépé had plenty of time to fake out center back Aïssa Mandi before using him as a screen to finish by M’Bolhi and the Elephants were stampeding.

It only got worse a few minutes later for Algeria when a penalty kick was awarded. However, Riyad Mahrez stepped up and slammed his spot kick against the post and out to make it seem like the Fennecs were cursed in Cameroon. Algeria finally had the better of their opponents for a stretch of the match and were able to get one goal back. A corner kick found Youcef Belaïli at the edge of the box, who scuffed his shot to the far post where Mandi athletically flicked the ball back across for Sofiane Bendebka to head in.

The effort from Algeria was too little too late and it could be said they were lucky to only lose by two goals to an Elephants team that looks to have really hit its stride. Highlights of the match are below.

22′- Kessié finishes Ivory Coast’s first goal from a Pépé cross

39′- Aurier free kick finds Sangaré for a headed goal

54′- Pépé makes it three after Algeria is caught on the break

73′- Bendebka nets Algeria’s consolation goal

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