Algeria beat Zimbabwe 3-1 in a 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier at Stade du 5 Juillet in Algiers on Thursday evening to move five points clear atop Group H.
Victory also extended the Desert Foxes’ unbeaten streak to 21 matches, a sequence which includes their run to the 2019 Afcon title. Defeat leaves Zimbabwe in second spot, a point above neighbours Zambia who beat Botswana 2-1 in Lusaka earlier in the day.
The Warriors conjured the first chance of the match and should’ve had the lead three minutes in after the ball fell at Khama Billiat’s feet in a dangerous area but Raïs M’Bolhi made a terrific save to deny the Kaizer Chiefs attacker.
Zimbabwe were made to rue that missed chance in the 31st minute as Algeria opened the scoring. Elvis Chipezeze palmed Sofiane Feghouli’s speculative effort straight at Baghdad Bounedjah who duly passed the ball into an open net to break the deadlock.
Algeria doubled their lead two minutes before the break. Riyad Mahrez outmuscled his marker before teeing up Sofiane Feghouli who directed a diving header into the back of the net.
Mahrez made it 3-0 in the 67th minute. His attempted through ball deflected off a Zimbabwean defender and back into his path and after gliding into the penalty area, the Manchester City winger finished with aplomb past Talbert Shumba who had replaced Chipezeze at halftime.
Zimbabwe had their chances and finally found the back of the net through Tinotenda Kadewere in the 79th minute. The Lyon striker beat the offside trap before chipping the onrushing M’Bolhi for a deserved goal, as he carried on from where he left off in France at the weekend.
In the end it proved to be yet another fruitful outing for the North Africans but Zimbabwe will take confidence from the match.
The two teams will meet again on Monday, 16 November at Harare’s National Sports Stadium.
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