Afcon 2017: Tunisia beats Algeria to win North African derby

    By Prince Dulzy

    Tunisia beat neighbours Algeria 2-1 to win what is labelled as the North African derby in their Group B Day 2 clash on Thursday in Franceville.

    Aissa Mandi’s own goal and Naim Sliti’s penalty condemn the Dessert Foxes to a defeat, which now puts their qualification to the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals in serious doubts.

    Meanwhile, Tunisia having suffered a defeat in their first match against Senegal, with this win has boosted their chances of reaching the quarter-finals.

    A match packed with tension was only the second time these sides played one another in the Africa Cup of Nations, even though they have played 44 matches outside the Afcon tournament.

    Algeria and Tunisia having had a horrendous start in their first matches against Zimbabwe and Senegal respectively, it was well anticipated that nothing less than a win should be the outcome of the match and that happened with Tunisia having the better share.

    The first half was very tactical and a well balanced game with both sides creating their own chances.

    Tunisia looked sharper than Algeria in the second half making some dangerous attacks which led to Aissa Mandi scoring an own goal when he directed Youssef Msakni’s left-wing cross into his own net 5 minutes into the second half.

    In the 65th minute, sloppy defending by Faouzi Ghoulam brought down Wahbi Khazri in the penalty area, which the referee pointed at the spot. From 12 yards Naim Sliti made no mistake when he coolly slotted into the right corner.

    Tunisia with two goals up still pressed for the third goal making life difficult for Mahrez and Co. But, Algeria started playing well pushing very hard to get a goal to come back into the game.

    Algeria could have reduced their deficit when Islam Slimani had a great chance from a point-blank header but Aymen Mathlouthi pulled an excellent save. They had another great chance to pull one back but Riyad Mahrez wasted his shot – he should have done better with a shot from the edge of the area.

    With four minutes remaining, Tunisian goalie Mathlouti was pulled out after sustaining an injury, with Rami Jeridi his replacement. It was only after the keeper had been replaced that Sofiane Hanni pulled one back for Algerai in stoppage time.

    Unfortunately for Mahrez and Co it was too late for any miracle to happen. Their largely toothless display has left them on the verge of an early exit.

    By Prince Dulzy

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