Ivory Coast draws with eliminated Algeria 2-2
RUSTENBURG, South Africa (AP)
Ivory Coast rallied from two goals down to close group play at the African Cup of Nations with a 2-2 draw with already eliminated Algeria on Wednesday.
Captain Didier Drogba scored in his return to the starting lineup after being dropped in the previous match.
Ivory Coast, the winner of Group D, had already advanced to the quarterfinals and will face two-time champion Nigeria, which was second to Burkina Faso in Group C. The quarterfinal will be on Sunday in Rustenburg.
Substitute Sofiane Feghouli opened the scoring for Algeria by converting a penalty kick in the 64th minute and Hilal Soudani added to the lead with a close-range header in the 70th.
Drogba's first goal of the tournament came from a header in the 77th, and Bony Wilfried netted the equalizer with a shot from outside the area in the 80th. Drogba had a chance to score the winner in stoppage time but couldn't manage more than a weak shot in front of the goal.
The Algerians missed a penalty kick just seven minutes into the match at Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
''It was a good game despite the situation of both teams,'' Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi said through a translator. ''What I appreciate the most is my players' reaction in the second half. They refused to lose, they didn't want to accept the defeat.''
Before the tournament, this match was hyped because it featured the two highest-ranked teams in the competition. But interest quickly diminished after 14th-ranked Ivory Coast managed to win its first two matches and 22nd-ranked Algeria failed to win a single point heading into the final group match.
Ivory Coast ended the group with seven points, three more than Togo and Tunisia. Togo finished second on goal difference.
The Algerians got on the board first in Rustenburg after Arthur Boka was called for a hand ball inside the area. The referee apparently didn't see it but the linesman made the call and Feghouli, who had just entered the match, fired a firm shot into the left upper corner.
Soudani added to the lead with a header from close range in the 70th.
Drogba put Ivory Coast back into the match by redirecting a long cross from the left side. His header from near the penalty spot found the far corner, giving no chance to the Algerian goalkeeper.
Wilfried's equalizer came with a shot from outside the area. The ball deflected on a defender, wrong-footing the goalkeeper.
Algeria was in good position to open the scoring after Soudani was held by Nigeria's Ismael Traore just inside the area in the fifth minute. Ryad Boudebouz fired a low left-footed shot from the spot but it struck the post.
''After two games it's nice to have moved forward,'' Algeria coach Vahid Halilhodzic said through a translator. ''We went through some very hard times. I asked my boys to give me a victory and tonight we were not very far from that.''
With first place in the group and a quarterfinal berth already secured, Lamouchi took the opportunity to make more changes to his lineup.
He returned Drogba and Kolo Toure as starters, and rested Gervinho, Yaya Toure, Didier Zokora and goalkeeper Boubacar Barry. Gervinho and Toure scored in the first two matches.
Drogba, the tournament's biggest star, was lackluster in the opener against Togo and sent on as a substitute 23 minutes from the end against Tunisia.
He had a slow start on Wednesday but improved as the game progressed. He nearly scored from a free kick in the 27th, sending a curling shot over the wall and just wide of the goal. He had another chance in the 40th, getting in front of a defender and firing a shot over the crossbar, and another free kick attempt missed wide again in the 50th.
Drogba went down in the 43rd after a hard play by Adlane Guedioura near the end line. He stayed on the ground for a few moments and needed medical assistance before getting up. He was still limping when he returned to the match but apparently fully recovered.
Ivory Coast goalkeeper Daniel Yeboah made a mistake by leaving the penalty area while still holding the ball in his hand, but the Algerians didn't take advantage of the close range free kick.
Algeria heads home with only a point from three matches, after conceding a late goal in the opener against Tunisia and losing 2-0 to Togo.
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