Cairo - Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez scored for Algeria as they
coasted to the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals with a 3-0 victory
over Guinea in Cairo Sunday.
Youcef Belaili put the Desert Foxes ahead on 24 minutes and former
African Footballer of the Year Mahrez added a second after 57 minutes in
the last-16 match at the 30 June Stadium.
Substitute Adam Ounas was on the field only five minutes when he
completed the rout with eight remaining, connecting with a low cross to
give goalkeeper Ibrahim Kone no chance.
With hosts Egypt and Herve Renard-coached Morocco suffering stunning
last-16 losses, many pundits are tipping Algeria to go all the way and
add to their lone title, won in 1990.
They are only nation among the 10 survivors boasting a 100 percent
record having beaten Kenya, highly-rated Senegal and Tanzania in group
matches to reach the knockout phase.
Algeria will face the Ivory Coast or Mali in a quarter-final in Suez
Thursday then, if successful, Nigeria or South Africa for a place in the
July 19 final.
Coach Djamel Belmadi changed nine of the team that outclassed
Tanzania in their final group game, restoring a host of first choices
Guinea meanwhile were missing Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita after
he was forced to leave Egypt owing to a recurrence of a groin injury
sustained against Barcelona in May.
The referee was kept busy during physical early exchanges, booking
Guinean Mady Camara and Algerian Adlane Guedioura within 14 minutes of
Camara was punished for a blatant foul on Mahrez, but Guedioura fired wide from the resultant free-kick close to the box.
Guedioura was then booked for a foul on Martinez Kante in a case of
mistaken identity as big-screen replays showed the offender was Aissa
Baghdad Bounedjah wasted a great chance to put Algeria ahead on 20
minutes when he controlled a Guedioura cross with his chest, then blazed
wide with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Bounedjah, who came to the Cup of Nations after scoring 39 goals for
Qatari champions Al Sadd last season, atoned for his miss by helping
Algeria take the lead.
His backheel inside the penalty area allowed Belaili to beat Kone
from the tightest of angles with a shot that went into the far corner of
There were more fouls than goal attempts during the remainder of a
niggly opening half that finished with Algeria retaining the 1-0
Kante became the second Guinean to be yellow-carded, for fouling
Djamel Benlamri, and coach Paul Put reacted by taking him off and
sending on Fode Koita.
Koita was barely on the field when Algeria doubled their lead as
Mahrez collected an Ismael Bennacer cross, cut inside Issiaga Sylla and
sent Kone the wrong way.
The match had long ceased to be a contest when Ounas claimed his
third goal of the competition, joining three other players at the top of
the scoring charts.