Algeria got knocked out of the AFCON 2021 after Ivory Coast defeated them 3-1. The Ivorians sent the defending champions crashing out of the Africa Cup of Nations after a terrible Group E campaign.
Algeria’s 35-game unbeaten streak was snapped in a surprising upset by Equatorial Guinea in their last match, and they were outplayed once more by the outstanding Ivorians on Thursday, who could have scored more goals with better finishing.
Ivory Coast took first place in Group E after goals from Franck Kessie and Ibrahim Sangare in the first half, and Pepe added another goal after the break.
Sofiane Bendebka pulled one back for Algeria with their first goal since arriving in Cameroon, but it was too late. Riyad Mahrez hit the post with a second-half penalty.
The incumbent champions have now failed to advance to the knockout stage in five of the last six Nations Cups.
Djamel Belmadi’s team arrived in Cameroon on a three-year unbeaten run, but they were held to a draw by Sierra Leone in their first encounter and subsequently lost to Equatorial Guinea, their first defeat in 36 matches.
With a win over an Ivory Coast team already guaranteed a spot in the knockout rounds, Algeria would have qualified for the last 16, but that never seemed likely.
The spectators at the Japoma Stadium in Cameroon’s commercial capital ate up their defeat, with the 50,000-seat stadium filling up as the game progressed.
By the end of the game, it appeared that fans had filled more seats than the 60 percent capacity limit established as part of the coronavirus restrictions, and many had invaded the pitch in chaotic celebration scenes.
The fans definitely backed Ivory Coast, and they will stay in Douala for a heavyweight last-16 matchup against Egypt’s Mohamed Salah next week, in a rematch of the 2006 final won by the Pharaohs.
Algeria’s only other Cup of Nations title came in 1990, although the squad was eliminated in the first stage of the following edition after losing 0-3 to the Ivorians, who went on to win the trophy.