Algeria need penalties to sink Ivory Coast

Algeria progressed to the semi-finals of the Africa Cup Of Nations after overcoming Ivory Coast 4-3 on penalties in the quarter-finals on Thursday evening in Suez.

The Elephants made two changes from the team that defeated Mali in the last 16, as Ibrahim Sangare earned a start ahead of Jean-Philippe Gbamin, while Max-Alain Gradel returned to the side at the expense of Nicolas Pepe

Gradel almost gave Côte d’Ivoire the lead in the sixth minute with a curling shot from the edge of the box that was unfortunately tipped to the far post by shot-stopper Rais M’Bolhi, while Jonathan Kodjia went close minutes later.

The Desert Foxes did not waste time or chances to find the back of the net, as Sofiane Feghouli got the opener in the 20th minute with a left-footed finish towards the far corner, following a through ball from Ramy Bensebaini in the centre of the box.

However, Algeria were dealt an injury blow on the half-hour mark as right-back Youcef Atal could not continue and he was replaced by Mehdi Zeffane.

Barely a minute minute after the break as the Desert Foxes’ striker Baghdad Bounedjah was tripped inside the box going clear on goal by goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo and earned a penalty. However, Bounedjah could not take advantage as his strike from 12-yards out crashed against the top woodwork.

Kodjia finally levelled matters for Côte d’Ivoire in the 62nd minute with a left-footed shot that found the bottom corner from just inside the box after combining with Zaha.

Zaha had a wonderful chance to give Ivory Coast a 2-1 lead with 15 minutes remaining after receiving a diagonal pass in the air from Gradel, however, the Crystal Palace star mistimed his volley, despite being free on the left side of the box and scuffed his effort.

Neither side could find a winning goal in the latter stages of the second half, which forced the game in to extra-time. Ivory Coast nearly snatched the lead midway through extra-time in a goal-mouth scramble where Ismael Traore’s shot was cleared on the line by Zeffane.

Islam Slimani also had a chance to net the winner for Belmadi’s troops with seven minutes remaining after receiving a through ball from Feghouli, but his header on the right side of the box was saved by Gbohouo.

Algeria had another chance to avoid the dreaded penalty shoot-outs, with a free-kick from just outside the box deep in stoppage time and although Andy Delort curled his strike wide.

The clash went was to be decided by a shoot-out, where Algeria triumphed 4-3 to set up a semi-final date with Nigeria.

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