Ivory Coast beat the title holders Algeria 3-1 and kicked them out of the Africa Cup of Nations

Ivory Coast crushed a disgusting Algeria 3-1 on Thursday with Nicolas Pepe among the goal scorers when the reigning champions crashed out of the Africa Cup of Nations in the group stage.

Franck Kessie and Ibrahim Sangare scored in the first half for the Elephants in Douala, while Pepe added another goal after the break when Ivory Coast secured the top spot in Group E.

Riyad Mahrez hit the post with a penalty in the second half before Sofiane Bendebka pulled back one for Algeria with her first goal since coming to Cameroon, but then it was too late.

It is the fifth time in the last six Cup of Nations that the reigning champions have failed to reach the AFCON knockout phase, but there has undoubtedly never been a worse title defense.

Djamel Belmadi’s team came to Cameroon on an undefeated run that stretched back over three years, but they were held by Sierra Leone in their opening match and then lost to Equatorial Guinea to suffer a first defeat in 36 matches.

Algeria would have qualified for the last sixteen with a win against a team from the Ivory Coast who have already guaranteed their place in the knockout rounds, but it never looked like an opportunity.

Their demise was hovered by fans at Japoma Stadium in Cameroon’s economic capital, and the ground with a capacity of 50,000 was filled as the game continued.

When the match was over, it looked like the fans had taken more seats than the capacity limit of 60 percent that was introduced as part of the restrictions of the corona virus, and many invaded the pitch in chaotic celebration scenes.

Côte d’Ivoire obviously had the support of the crowd and they will stay in Douala for a heavyweight final next week against Mohamed Salah’s Egypt in a repeat of the 2006 final which won the pharaohs.

Equatorial Guinea through

Equatorial Guinea move through to second place in Group E after defeating Sierra Leone 1-0 in Limbe thanks to a fantastic first half from Pablo Ganet.

Kei Kamara missed a penalty for Sierra Leone when they go out while Equatorial Guinea stay in Limbe for a round of 16 against the winner of Group F between Gambia, Tunisia and Mali.

The Ivorians had conceded a stoppage time equalizer in their last match to make it 2-2 with Sierra Leone after a comical mistake by goalkeeper Badra Ali Sangare.

He was later told of his father’s death later that evening, but he retained his place in an Elephants team that missed Premier League pair Eric Bailly and Wilfried Zaha due to fitness problems.

They went halfway through the first half at the end of a fantastic move when Pepe cut the ball back for Kessie to finish low in the corner.

It was 2-0 six minutes before the break when the unmarked Sangare nodded in a free kick from Serge Aurier.

Algeria did not come out struggling after the restart and they may have fallen further behind before Pepe finished superbly in the 54th minute and made it 3-0.

Mahrez then hit upright on the hour from a point kick awarded for a soft foul on Youcef Belaili.

They got a first goal in over four hours of football when Aissa Mandi turned the ball over the goal for substitute Bendebka to score in the 73rd minute, but were spared extra misery when Sebastien Haller’s late nod was rejected for offside.


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