Riyad Mahrez’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2021 is over after Algeria have been eliminated, following Thursday’s defeat to Ivory Coast.
The reigning African champions lost 3-1 at the Douala Stadium, with Manchester City’s Mahrez playing the full 90 minutes, while Eric Bailly was rested for the encounter.
Bailly had played in each of Ivory Coast’s first two games of the group and the Manchester United defender is expected to be involved in their last-16 fixture, with the Elephants topping Group E.
Meanwhile, it’s a surprise early exit for Algeria, who picked up just a point from their three group games.
Story of the game
Thursday’s encounter was one Ivory Coast dominated from start to finish and they repeatedly cut through Algeria with ease.
Patrice Beaumelle’s men took the lead on 22 minutes, moments after Algeria hit the post, with Franck Kessie converting from Nicolas Pepe’s cut back.
It was two before the break, with Ibrahim Sangare powerfully heading home following an in-swinging Serge Aurier free-kick, and then Arsenal’s Pepe curled in a sublime effort on 54 minutes.
Algeria were offered a lifeline on the hour when they got a penalty, but Mahrez, who had a poor game and a very disappointing tournament, smashed the spot-kick off the post.
The 2019 AFCON champions did grab a late consolation though Sofiane Bendebka, Algeria’s first of the tournament, but it was a game Ivory Coast dominated, and they had two further goals ruled out for offside in the second half, courtesy of Kessie and Sebastian Haller.
What next for Mahrez and Bailly?
For Mahrez, that’s his AFCON over and he’ll return to City having only missed two games so far. That number should increase to three with him unlikely to be back in time for Saturday’s game against Southampton.
After that, it’s an international break before City face Fulham in the fourth round of the FA Cup on 5 February.
As for Bailly and Ivory Coast, they move on to a clash against Egypt next Wednesday, which means it should be United v Liverpool, with Mohamed Salah the Egyptian’s starman.