AFCON 2017: Algeria's Riyad Mahrez rescues draw with Zimbabwe

AFCON 2017: Algeria's Riyad Mahrez rescues draw with Zimbabwe
Algeria's star player Riyad Mahrez scored twice to prevent a shock defeat for the tournament favourites against Zimbabwe's Warriors in their AFCON campaign opener.
3 min read
16 Jan, 2017
Algeria's Desert Foxes kicked off their AFCON campaign with a disappointing result [Getty]

The Desert Foxes from Algeria opened their Africa Cup of Nations campaign on Sunday with a dramatic but quite disappointing result against the Warriors of Zimbabwe. 

The match opened in a pretty strong pace by the big favorites, with two chances from Yacine Brahimi and Riyad Mahrez in the first five minutes. 

Your guide to the Arab nations taking part in AFCON 2017

Zimbabwe, who wore unbranded shirts after their original kits haven't arrived on time to Franceville, seemed pretty shocked by the rhythm.

In the 11th minute Algeria went on the scoreboard. Riyad Mahrez, on the counter-attack, took a fine shot from the right to left, to the post and all the way in – and it was 1-0 Algeria. 

Algeria celebrate their first goal in the 11th minute [Getty]

It didn't take too long before Zimbabwe equalised. A calm attack ended with a clever flat shot by Mahachi who levelled the result, and got the whole stadium into a shock – 1-1 after only 17 minutes of play. 

The avalanche didn't stopped there and after 28 minutes, the southern African team won a penalty after a foul by Blekhiter inside of the box. The Algerian was booked with a yellow and Mushekwi scored the spot kick with his left foot. An unbelievable achievement for the Zimbabweans, who went up to 2-1, a result that nobody expected. 

Algeria attacked desperately, but was unlucky in front of goalkeeper Mkuruva, and the first half concluded with an outrageous advantage for Zimbabwe.  

The Zimbabweans fought to their last breath [Getty]

The second half was quite desperate and frustrating for the Algerian fans, who saw their team struggling to score. But then, Riyad Mahrez decided that this was it and scored another left foot belter, this time after going through two players and a shot from outside of the box. 2-2 on the 78th minute.

Algeria then began to attack in rage, but the Zimbabweans fought to their last breath. After three minutes of added time Ethiopian referee Balamak called it a game. A dramatic 2-2 draw, which put Algeria in a very uncomfortable situation in Group B.

Their rivals for qualification, Tunisia and Senegal, probably smiled to see one of the tournament's biggest favourites for triumph losing points against the Zimbabwean minnows.

Algeria: R. M'Bolhi; A. Mandi; F. Ghoulam; R. Bensebaini ; A. Guédioura; N. Bentaleb; M. Belkhiter (yellow card 26’); Y. Brahimi; E. Soudani; I. Slimani; R. Mahrez ( goal 12', 78’); Coach: G. Leekens

Zimbabwe: T. Mkuruva; O. Bhasera; C. Nhamoinesu; H. Zvirekwi; E. Muroiwa; D. Phiri; W. Katsande; K. Musona (SUB 12’ – Rusike – yellow card 38’); N. Mushekwi (goal, pen, 28’); K. Billiat ;K. Mahachi (goal 17’); Coach: C. Pasuwa

Uri Levy runs the popular football blog BabaGol, which covers football and politics focusing on the Middle East. Follow him on Twitter, and read his blog here