Ivory Coast draws with eliminated Algeria 2-2

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


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


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


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


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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