TheNigerianVoice Online Radio Center

Algeria beats Ivory Coast 3-2 in extra time

By Ghana FA

Substitute Hameur Bouazza scored in extra time to give Algeria a 3-2 win over fellow World Cup qualifier Ivory Coast on Sunday and a spot in the semifinals of the African Cup of Nations.

Algeria, which is playing in the biennial tournament for the first time since 2004, will next face either defending champion Egypt or Cameroon.

“Whatever the opponent, it must be sport and nothing else,” coach Rabah Saadane said, referring to the clashes that occured ahead of Algeria's World Cup qualifier with Egypt last November in Cairo, where Egyptian fans pelted a bus carrying Algerian players.

Three Algerian players were injured and fan violence after that match injured more than 32. Algeria then qualified for the World Cup with a playoff win over Egypt in November.

“Against Egypt, everything went very fine on the pitch,” Saadane said. “Tonight we played well, we scored three goals and we created a lot of chances. We are on the good path.”

Bouazza took advantage of poor defending by Ivory Coast's defenders to score the winner in the second minute of extra time, heading home from Karim Ziani's cross from the left just a minute after coming on.

Ivory Coast midfielder Salomon Kalou had opened the scoring in the fourth minute from close range before Karim Matmour's equalizer five minutes before the break.

Ivory Coast thought it had won the game after substitute Kader Keita scored two minutes from the end of normal time with a stunning 30-meter strike into the top left corner. But Madjid Bougherra leveled for Algeria in injury time with a header after being left unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box.

“We didn't play well,” Ivory Coast coach Vahid Halilhodzic said. “Some players were tired, I don't know why. When you have a 2-1 lead with one minute left, you simply don't have the right to let your opponent equalize. Algeria deserves its victory.”

Algeria, which had only scored one goal during the group phase, ended Ivory Coast's 23-matche unbeaten run.

“I told my players that we shouldn't take this side lightly,” Halilhodzic added. “Being the favorites was probably too heavy for them. When this team has to show its talent, sometimes it comes to a sticking point. We had victory in our hands and we let it slip away.”

The former African champion Algeria had to recover from a shaky start as Ivory Coast quickly took the lead when Chelsea midfielder Kalou picked up Yaya Toure's deflected shot in the box and coolly slotted the ball home.

Didier Drogba had a good chance three minutes later after picking up a poor clearance but the Chelsea star failed to take advantage before Yaya Toure fluffed his shot from the edge of the box following a nice one-two with Kalou.

Drogba was then set up by Gervinho's through ball before being brought down in the box by Rafik Halliche in the 15th minute but referee Eddy Maillet declined to award a penalty.

Algeria leveled the score when Matmour collected a long ball on the edge of the box and found space between two defenders before striking the ball in off the post.

Algeria could have taken the lead early in the second half, when Mourad Meghni set up Matmour with a lofted ball over the Elephants defense but the Borussia Moenchengladbach midfielder put his volley just over the bar.

Drogba should have scored in the 65th minute when he was left unmarked at the far post, collected a precise cross but then completely missed his volley.

Souleman Bamba lost the ball on the edge of the ball to give Matmour another chance to put Algeria ahead in the 68th minute but Barry produced an excellent save.

The Elephants struggled to create clear cut scoring chances, and were largely limited to trying their luck from long range, with Yaya Toure's low shot shaving the post in the 78th minute.

Gervinho wasted Ivory Coast's best chance of the second half six minutes from time, missing the target from close range after collecting a magnificent through ball from substitute Kader Keita.

But Keita put his side ahead with just two minutes of regulation time remaining when he leashed a 30-yard strike into the top left corner.

Ivory Coast players and staff celebrated on the bench only to see Bougherra equalize two minutes into injury time, with the Rangers defender heading home at the far post from Nadir Belhadj's cross.

Ivory Coast then went behind to Bouazza's extra time goal and failed to recover its composure as Algeria wasted several chances to increase its lead, but Kolo Toure was unlucky not to score after being flagged offside in the dying minutes of the match when television replays seemed to suggest he was in line with the last defender.