Ivory Coast stay unbeaten in group stage

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

IVORY Coast bounced back in dramatic fashion late in the second half, scoring two quick goals to earn a 2-2 draw with Algeria in their final Orange Africa Cup of Nations Group D soccer match in Rustenburg last night.

With Ivory Coast having qualified for the quarterfinals prior to this game, coach Sabri Lamouchi rested some of his best performers, such as Yaya Toure, Didier Zokora, Gervinho, Barry Boubacar and former Mamelodi Sundowns defender Siaka Tiene.

After starting on the bench in the 3-0 win over Tunisia where they booked a place in the knockout stages, Didier Drogba started the game this time and was also wearing the captain’s armband in a clash where he scored his first goal of the tournament.

Algeria squandered a golden opportunity to take an early lead after Ryad Boudebouz failed to convert a penalty in the fifth minute.

The north Africans were awarded a penalty after Traore fouled striker El Arabi Soudani by pulling him down.

Ivory Coast were under siege from the goal-shy Algerians, who lost their two opening games to Tunisia (1-0) and Togo (2-0).

Algeria finally scored their first goal of the tournament in the 63rd minute. It was a penalty converted by Sofiane Feghouli after Ivorian defender Etienne Boka handled the ball.

Soudani netted the second goal in the 69th minute, while Ivory Coast were still trying to recover from the first strike.

Ivory Coast, who will meet Nigeria in the quarterfinals here on Sunday, pulled one back in the 74th minute through Drogba, and Wilfried Guemiand leveled matters four minutes later to ensure they finished the group stage unbeaten.

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