Experienced striker Wilfried Bony and midfielder Serey Die missed penalties in the shootout as Algeria sealed a 4-3 victory over the Ivory Coast following an entertaining 1-1 Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final draw yesterday.
Algeria will now meet Nigeria in the semi-finals at the Cairo International Stadium on Sunday as they seek to end their long wait for continental success that stretches back to 1990. Sofiane Feghouli put Algeria ahead in the first half, but they failed to increase that advantage when Baghdad Bounedjah missed a penalty early in the second period.
Ivory Coast striker Jonathan Kodjia equalised just past the hour mark, after which both sides created chances and had efforts cleared off the line, but were unable to be separated in 120 minutes. Bony saw his weak penalty saved by Algerian goalkeeper Rais M’Bolhi, before captain Die struck the post to sink the 2015 Nations Cup champions and see the North African side advance to just a second semi-final in 29 years.
Max Gradel’s curling 25-yard shot was tipped onto the post by a diving M’Bolhi as the Ivorians served notice of their early attacking intent. And it should have been 1-0 a few minutes later when the wizardry of Wilfried Zaha in the box saw him fashion a low cross that was perfect for Kodjia, who missed the ball completely.
Algeria captain Riyad Mahrez fired wide at the other end, before they took the lead with a well-worked goal on 20 minutes. Full back Ramy Bensebaini picked up the loose ball on the left-hand side of the box and laid on a perfect pass for Feghouli to score.
They could have made it 2-0 a minute into the second half when Ivory Coast goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo up-ended Bounedjah in the box, and after a consultation with the Video Assistant Referee, Bamlak Tessema Weyesa awarded the spot kick. Bounedjah took the penalty himself, but fired over off the crossbar.
A few minutes later, Kodjia’s quick shot from a tight angle looped onto the woodwork, before the Aston Villa forward finally found the equaliser.
Set free by Zaha on the right, he cut inside and let fly from the edge of the box, his shot arrowing into the bottom corner of the net.
It was a first goal conceded by Algeria in the tournament. Mahrez then managed to beat Gbohouo with his low shot, but Mamadou Bagayoko did brilliantly to clear off the line.
Ivorian Ismael Traore came closest to a winner in extra time when his scrambled shot from a corner was blocked on the line by Mehdi Zeffane.
Nigeria grab late winner against South Africa
to reach semi-finals
On Wednesday night, Nigeria sneaked into the semi-finals when defender William Troost-Ekong scored with one minute remaining to give them a 2-1 win over a gallant South Africa as the tournament served up more drama.
Troost Ekong, left unmarked, turned the ball in with his knee from a corner to leave the South Africans heart-broken after they had fought their way back into the match which seemed to be out of their reach.
Samuel Chukwueze, recalled to the side after missing the previous round, put the Super Eagles in front when he scored at the second attempt in the 27th minute. Nigeria stayed in control, missed chances and paid the price when Bongani Zungu headed an equaliser in the 71st minute with South Africa’s first shot on target.
The goal was initially ruled offside but then awarded after a VAR check – the first major intervention by technology since it was introduced for the quarter-finals. Nigeria went ahead with the first really dangerous attack of the match. Alex Iwobi burst down the left and pulled the ball back into the area to Chukwueze whose first effort was blocked by a defender but scored after it rebounded back to him.
Chukwueze, overlooked for the 3-2 last 16 win over Cameroon, was a constant menace down the right and created another chance after skipping past his marker but Dean Furman made a timely interception to deny him. Nigeria looked too strong all-round for their rivals and nearly extended their lead early in the second half with a 25-metre free kick from Oghenekaro Etebo but Ronwen Williams turned it on the bar.
South Africa, who sensationally knocked out hosts Egypt in the previous round, struggled to get a look-in but the Super Eagles repeatedly failed to turn the mazy runs of Ahmed Musa and Chukwueze into goals.
Then, from out of the blue, South Africa equalised as Percy Tau lofted a free kick into the area, it was flicked on and superbly headed in by Zungu.
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