30 January 2013

Cote d'Ivoire/Algeria: Elephants Come Back Against Surging Algeria

Photo: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix
Ivorian star Didier Drogba, seen scoring in 2012, provided a reminder of his prowess when he helped his side come back from behind by scoring one of their two goals.

Cote d’Ivoire came back from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw in their dead-rubber Group D clash with Algeria in their 2013 Africa Cup of Nations clash in Rustenburg on Wednesday night.

There was just pride to play for in this fixture, with the Ivorians already confirmed as pool winners and Algeria relegated to the wooden spoon. Both sides made a number of changes to their line-ups, the most notable a return to the starting XI for talismanic striker Didier Drogba as Ivorian coach Sabri Lamouchi sought to help him regain his match sharpness.

A largely forgettable first half was notable only for a missed penalty from Algeria. Ismael Traore was adjudged to have brought down Hilal Soudani, but Ryad Boudebouz could only crash the ball against the post.

The game came to life in the second period though, when Algeria came close to taking the lead. Ryad Boudebouz's free kick was flicked onto Essaid Belkalem at the back post, but all he could do was steer the ball into the arms of the goalkeeper.

Algeria finally scored their first goal of the tournament on 64 minutes. Arthur Boka was penalized for handling the ball in the box and this time Sofiane Feghouli made no mistake with the spot kick.

Feghouli, who has been head and shoulders above his teammates in this competition, then turned provider six minutes later when his cross was headed home by Soudani.

But credit to Cote d’Ivoire, they could have taken it easy from then on in with nothing really to lose. However, the fightback was on when Drogba headed home, a lovely clinical finish that served as a reminder of his prowess.

And the Ivorians were level with 10 minutes remaining as a Wilfried Bony 25-yard shot was deflected past Rais Mbolhi in the Algerian goal.

Drogba had a great chance to win the match in the dying seconds, but couldn’t get any power behind his snap effort from six yards.

Honours even, and Cote d’Ivoire march on to a quarter-final meeting with Nigeria in Rustenburg on Sunday, while Algeria head home to start thinking about their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

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