After a bit of a slow start AFCON 2021 has been a relentlessly entertaining watch over the past few days.
Sunday was no different with Sierra Leone causing a major shock at the expense of Ivory Coast, before favourites Algeria suffered a similar sting against Equatorial Guinea.
Here is how all the action played out…
Ivory Coast 2-2 Sierra Leone
A bizarre, last-gasp Alhaji Kamara goal gave Sierra Leone a famous draw with Ivory Coast, who themselves missed a penalty in the first half.
The Elephants went into the game as favourites and took the lead through Champions League top scorer Sebastien Haller in the 25th minute. They should have been ahead even earlier but Franck Kessie could not convert from 12 yards, seeing his penalty kept out by Mohamed Kamara.
Ivory Coast were made to rue that missed chance when Musa Kamara scored his first goal of the game, lashing home with his left foot just after the break. A Nicolas Pepe goal, assisted by the impressive Ibrahim Sangare, then restored parity before the game came to a dramatic conclusion.
In second half stoppage time Ivorian goalkeeper Badra Sangara failed to secure a loose ball, losing his footing and performing an unintended backflip which saw the ball break to Steven Caulker. He squared calmly to Kamara who tucked home to send the millions of Sierra Leoneans watching at home into pandemonium.
Algeria 0-1 Equatorial Guinea
The second game in Group E witnessed an even bigger shock with pre-tournament favourites Algeria slipping to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Equatorial Guinea.
A bad tempered first half saw six yellow cards but no goals, despite the Fennec Foxes possessing a host of attacking talent.
The deadlock was eventually broken 20 minutes from time by Obiang Obono Esteban, who made no mistake from close range.
The defeat ended Algeria’s 35-game unbeaten record and leaves them with one point after two games. They now need a result in their final group match against Ivory Coast to progress to the knockout stages.
Gambia 1-1 Mali
The shocks kept on coming in Group F with Mali failing to beat Gambia, who are ranked 150th in the world.
Both teams struck the woodwork with efforts from range in the first half but we had to wait until the 79th minute for the game’s first goal.
After a VAR review, Gambia were penalised for shirt-pulling in the box and Ibrahima Kone made no mistake from the spot. Mali were not able to hold on though, conceding a penalty of their own in the 90th minutes which Musa Barrow duly converted to secure a mightily impressive draw.
Tunisia 4-0 Mauritania
Tunisia made light work of minnows Mauritania on Sunday, romping to a 4-0 victory to earn their first points of the tournament.
After losing their first group game, the pressure was on the north African side to get a result and they duly delivered.
Tunisia raced into a two-goal lead inside ten minutes courtesy of strikes from Hamza Mathlouthi and Wahbi Khazri and they could have added more before the break. In the second period they added to their lead with Khazri and Seifeddine Jaziri scoring within a few minutes of each other to make it 4-0.
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