Algeria reached the African Cup of Nations semi-finals on Thursday evening as they beat Ivory Coast on penalties following a 1-1 draw after extra-time.
The two teams produced a brilliant, competitive affair with the Desert Foxes stealing an early march as Sofiane Feghouli scored in the 20th minute. Jonathan Kodjia was the man to reply not long after as he scored a fantastic solo effort mid-way through the second period. Neither side were able to edge ahead throughout the rest of the game. Wilfried Bony and Serey Die were the men to miss in the shootout for the Ivory Coast and ensure Algeria progress to the next round.
High tempo from the off
The game begun at a frantic pace and the Ivory Coast could have taken the lead but for Rais M’Bolhi tipping a wonderful effort from Max Gradel onto the post, with Jonathan Kodjia then putting the rebound wide.
The Aston Villa man then missed another great chance as he completely fluffed his lines from a Wilfried Zaha cross. Riyad Mahrez then also went close for Algeria as he jinked into the box but could only put his final effort wide.
The chances continued to flow throughout the opening stages as Gradel forced another stop out of the Algeria goalkeeper.
Feghouli spears Algeria ahead
Ivory Coast were in the ascendency for the majority of the opening stages and this time Wilfried Kanon was the man to go close as he shot wide.
However, Algeria then took the lead somewhat against the run of play through Feghouli. The former West Ham United man latched onto Ramy Bensebaini’s cross and coolly finished beyond Sylvain Gbohouo. The Desert Foxes almost doubled their lead as Mahrez went on another mazy run but had his effort blocked.
Desert Foxes spurn chance to double advantage
Straight from kick-off for the second-half, Algeria then had another opportunity to make it two. Striker Bahgdad Bounedjah tore into the box and was hauled down by Ivory Coast stopper Gbobouo. It was the forward who indeed stepped up but his spot-kick cannoned off of the crossbar.
That missed penalty appeared to re-energise Les Elephants and they twice went close to an equaliser. First, Kodjia’s cross hit Aissa Mandi and bounced back off of the crossbar before they eventually did draw level. Zaha played in Kodjia and the Aston Villa striker cut inside before finishing low beyond M’Bolhi.
Brilliant watch in Suez
The match really was a great spectacle as both sides pushed for what would be a priceless winning goal. Bounedjah again had the chance to net but was denied by quick thinking from the Algerian stopper before Mahrez looked destined to hit the back of the net but a brilliant intervention from Mamadou Bagayoko saw the ball cleared off of the line.
Both teams were guilty of missing some wonderful chances in the closing stages. Zaha, unmarked beyond the Algeria defence, somehow sliced a volley well wide of goal with Youcef Belaili also blazing an effort high over the crossbar.
Match heads into extra-time and penalties
The two teams really continued to push as regulation time came to a close. Substitute Islam Slimani should have won the game as the ball fell to him outside of the box, with Gbohou advanced, but the Leicester City striker did not put anywhere near enough power into his shot for the ball to reach the net. Adam Ounas then thought he should have had a penalty but the referee was unmoved as the match headed into extra-time.
Predictably, there were even more chances as the game edged into extra-time. Maxwel Cornet was the man who arguably went the closest but again he had his effort blocked on its route to goal. Slimani also had a chance but his header was well parried by the Ivory Coast goalkeeper. Neither side were able to score though as the game headed to penalties.
Each of the first five spot-kicks were scored but former Manchester City man Wilfried Bony hit an unconvincing effort and it was saved by M’Bolhi. With the chance to book Algeria’s spot in the semi-finals, Youcef Belaili passed up the opportunity as he struck the post. It mattered not though as Serey Die hit the woodwork too to hand the win over to the Desert Foxes.
In truth, both sides really could have won the game considering the amount of chances they created between them. The game was a brilliant watch with each team obviously keen to progress to the semi-finals. Algeria probably got the luck of the draw having won the penalty shootout in a match that could have gone either way. The Desert Foxes will now take on Nigeria on Sunday.
Ivory Coast: Gbohouo (7); Coulibaly (7), Kanon (6) (Comara (5), 54′), Traore (6), Bagayoko (7); Serey Die (6), Sangare (7) (Gbamin (6), 78′), Kessie (6); Gradel (7), Kodjia (7) (Bony (5), 96′), Zaha (7) (Cornet (5), 94′).
Algeria: M’Bolhi (6); Bensebaini (6), Benlamri (7), Mandi (6), Attal (6) (Zeffen (6), 30′); Belaili (7), Bennacer (6), Guedioura (6), Feghouli (7) (Delort (N/A), 120+1′), Mahrez (7) (Ounas (7), 86′); Bounedjah (5) (Slimani (5), 78′).
Goals: Feghouli (20’), Kodjia (62′)
Referee: Bamlak Tessema Weyesa
Yellow Cards: Bensebaini (29′), Zaha (29′), Bennacer (39′), Bagayoko (43′), Gbohouo (46′), Kessie (88′), Comara (120′)
Red Cards: N/A