Ivory Coast and Algeria clashed within the quarter-final on the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) on Thursday night in Suez. After a 1-1 attract regulation time as Algeria missed a penalty, the sport went into extra-time and was then settled by spot-kicks. The Desert Foxes gained 4-Three on penalties and can face Nigeria within the semi-final, as Ivory Coast’s match involves an finish.
After being completely outplayed of their Spherical of 16 win in opposition to Mali, Ibrahima Kamara made two modifications to his lineup. Max Gradel got here in to interchange Nicolas Pepe on the best flank after the latter’s underwhelming show in that match, while Jean-Philippe Gbamin dropped all the way down to bench as Ibrahim Sangare got here in – central midfield had confirmed an issue space for the Ivorians within the match. At proper again, captain Serge Aurier remained out injured as Mamadou Bagayoko continued to deputise.
Algeria named an unchanged facet from their 3-Zero win in opposition to Guinea with coach, Djamel Belmadi blissful along with his facet’s efficiency and bodily restoration since that convincing win. Ismael Bennacer was significantly spectacular in that match, proving an help and making seven dribbles. Be a part of top-scorer within the match, Adam Ounas was amongst the substitutes, as was Islam Slimani.
FIGHT FOR THE FLANKS
Early on, this sport felt like an actual match-up everywhere in the pitch as either side used three man central midfields and lone strikers. The important thing gamers for The Elephants have been the 2 broad gamers, Max Gradel on the left and Wilfried Zaha on the best. They not solely had the principle duty for Ivory Coast’s assaults, however needed to discover a option to cope with Algeria’s extraordinarily adventurous fullbacks – Youcef Atal and Ramy Bensebaini.
On the opposite facet, The Desert Foxes had two inverted wingers who seemed to maneuver inside from their broad positions to free house for the fullbacks to assault. This put numerous defensive onus on the central midfielders to cowl house on counter assaults, significantly on the best after Atal’s forays.
Within the opening phases, Ivory Coast continued their development this match of enjoying very direct. A lot of the passes from deep areas have been aimed lengthy within the route of Jonathan Kodjia. Their begin was spectacular although contemplating that they had one much less relaxation day than Algeria and had struggled in all aspects in most of their video games within the Afcon.
Gradel and Zaha have been each proving main weapons. The previous reduce inside to strike the submit after a positive Rais M’bolhi fingertip save, then Zaha beat Bensebaini with a dribble however Kodjia couldn’t end in a crowded field. The assault had come on the break with Atal stranded excessive up the pitch, Guedioura masking on the best, and Kodjia in a position to obtain in a vacant midfield zone and ship Zaha away.
Regardless of a lot of fouls, it was a really open begin to the sport with Gradel hitting one other begin on the right track and being chopped down after beating Atal. The latter was an undoubted weapon going ahead, having scored six occasions for OGC Good final season, together with a hattrick when enjoying as a winger. Nevertheless, his defensive positioning was an actual concern. On the other facet, Zaha was being requested to tuck into slim positions onto the far ball-side central midfielder, Bennacer when Algeria attacked on the other flank. This made the Ivorians prone to fast switches of play to Youcef Belaili on Algeria’s left.
Cote d’Ivoire had performed a number of hopeful longer passes within the route of Kodjia, often static and combating within the air to create second balls for teammates. Algeria, alternatively, have been enjoying fixed longer passes into house in the direction of their focus, Baghdad Bounedjah. The ahead was probably the most persistently harmful participant on the pitch. Wherever a teammate was dealing with ahead with the ball, the striker noticed it as a set off to make a run into depth.
Whereas Kodjia was doing a very good job for his facet, Bounedjah was a downright nightmare for Wilfried Kanon and Ismael Traore to cope with. His motion into the channels, chasing misplaced causes and working in-behind pushed The Elephants deeper, creating large areas in entrance of their again 4 for Belaili and Riyad Mahrez to take advantage of. One wonderful run by the latter noticed him spin off the again of Sangare, play a one-two with Belaili and hearth a shot narrowly broad.
When the purpose got here for Belmadi’s males, it mixed all the weather of their play: a cross-field swap, Bounedjah successful the ball off a defender, and fullback Bensebaini pulling the ball again for Sofiane Feghouli to complete fantastically. Serey Die had been drawn out of his zone to shut down and the end got here from that precise space.
ATAL OFF, BOTH SIDES CLOSE
After half an hour, Atal’s sport was over after a nasty touchdown on his arm when bombing ahead. Mehdi Zeffane got here on in his place, a much more conservative fullback. Each side got here near scoring earlier than the half-time whistle as Gradel acquired within the field after a diagonal run however was thwarted by the superb Djamel Benlamri.
Mahrez was then introduced with an opportunity after a fast freekick by Konan was given straight to the winger, however regardless of beating two males along with his trademark feints, the Manchester Metropolis man’s shot was blocked. There was nonetheless time for one more Gradel shot after Zaha swapped wings and picked him out.
The primary half had been a really entertaining affair and doubtless certainly one of Ivory Coast’s higher performances within the match, significantly the power of their play contemplating their Spherical of 16 match had been on Monday. By the ultimate minute of the primary interval, Algeria had 9 outfield gamers again inside the ultimate 25 yards of the pitch as they defended aggressively in numbers to see out the half with a lead.
It took simply 21 seconds of the second half for Bounedjah to win a penalty. He pressured Konan into an error after which was taken down by goalkeeper, Sylvain Gbohouo. The contact was minimal at greatest, however summed up the unrelenting check of dealing with the Qatar-based striker. He stepped up himself, however might solely strike the bar.
After that, Algeria confirmed all their famed sport administration and gamesmanship skills, slowing down proceedings and committing a succession of momentum-killing fouls, as that they had achieved within the first half too.
Once they conceded 62 minutes in – their first purpose let all match – it got here from an error. Mahrez gave the ball away in midfield, Zaha led a counter, and Kodjia chopped inside Benlamri to curve a shot into the far nook.
The Desert Foxes’ response was wonderful. They instantly elevated the depth of the match, successful a number of set performs and going shut from some excellent Belaili deliveries. The fitting-footed left winger had significantly stepped up for the reason that equaliser. He arrange Bounedjah for an excellent likelihood which Gbohouo saved properly, then the striker picked out Mahrez’s run and hit shot was one way or the other cleared off the road by the recovering Bagayoko.
The ultimate contribution from Algeria’s emotional, excellent striker was to arrange Belaili to fireside a shot narrowly over after robust hold-up play. It was an actual shock to see Islam Slimani take the ahead’s place shortly after. Regardless of the latter’s pedigree and report for his nation, it instantly gave Traore and substitute centre again, Cheick Comara, a better time. There was merely much less depth to Algeria’s play and with much less channel runs, the central defenders have been not drawn out of the center.
The remainder of regulation time had few good incidents. With 37 fouls by the 73rd minute and a swath of substitutions as Sangare went off with cramp and Adam Ounas changed Mahrez for Algeria, there was a continuing breaking of momentum.
The clearest path to purpose for Kamara’s crew was by way of Gradel’s deliveries from broad. His left-footed cross arrange Zaha to volley a very good opening excessive and broad, as Kodjia continued to seek out pleasure by dropping deep, away from strain and turning to play in his wingers. The Aston Villa man additionally almost arrange Franck Kessie for an opportunity within the field with a very good move.
As is so usually the case, additional time lacked many moments of actual pleasure. Maxwell Cornet got here on and had a very good taking pictures likelihood from extra Gradel service and Comara headed over from the winger’s set-play.
Algeria had menace on the best from Ounas’ direct dribbling however with Slimani ready within the field, he required service and was not in a position to create possibilities for teammates like Bounedjah had achieved. Wilfried Bony’s introduction for Kodjia additionally gave Ivory Coast much less motion and tempo and the substitute had no impression past committing a number of fouls.
There have been nonetheless two late possibilities for Algeria as Kessie offered himself, Belaili acquired free between-the-lines and arrange Slimani for an excellent opening, however Gbohouo saved excellently. Andy Delort got here on for the ultimate motion to take a freekick which he put narrowly previous the submit. The sport could be settled on penalties, with Algeria taking a 4-Three victory.
This was a superb sport of soccer, however much less about ways and extra concerning the particular person skills of the 2 groups’ broad gamers and the motion of their beginning forwards (and the dearth of motion from their replacements). Algeria have been the higher crew, utilizing extra interaction and mixtures in assault to work possibilities for his or her inverted wingers, however the removing of the sport’s greatest participant in striker Bounedjah noticed their attacking menace diminish.
Ivory Coast had struggled for any type of cohesive play within the Afcon previous to this sport, however seemed extra spectacular on this match as Zaha had his greatest sport of the match, establishing 4 possibilities, and Gradel was excellent on each flanks, first chopping in to shoot from the left, after which delivering wonderful crosses when on the best. Like Algeria, the removing of their cell focus ahead noticed a drop of their purpose menace.
This sport might simply have been a number of extra objectives, however Algeria deserved the victory on the stability of possibilities having missed a penalty, pressured a number of wonderful saves, and had a shot cleared off the road. They are going to face Nigeria within the semi-final on Sunday.