AFCON 2023: Bounedjah’s late strike helps Algeria draw 2-2 with Burkina Faso, Angola beat Mauritania

Algeria striker Baghdad Bounedjah celebrates his second goal of the night and the equaliser against Mali in a 2-2 draw on Saturday, Janaury 20, 2024

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast: Algeria striker Baghdad Bounedjah scored very late to lessen the danger of his country’s second straight Africa Cup of Nations group-stage exit by salvaging a 2-2 draw against Burkina Faso on Saturday.

Burkina Faso fans were already celebrating what they thought was their team’s progress to the last 16 when Bounedjah rose high to head Adam Ounas’ corner past goalkeeper Hervé Koffi in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time.

It was Bounedjah’s second goal after he cancelled Mohamed Konaté’s first-half header by equalizing shortly after the break.

The Stallions substitute Bertrand Traoré had earlier scored with another penalty to restore his team’s lead as the match headed for the closing minutes. The Aston Villa forward, who also scored late in the 1-0 win over Mauritania, sent his spot kick down the centre of the goal in the 71st minute.

Bounedjah’s late equalizer left Burkina Faso on four points after two games, behind group leader Angola on goal difference. Gelson Dala scored twice to help Angola defeat Mauritania 3-2 in the other Group D game.

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Algeria was left with two points from its opening two games, while Mauritania has zero. Only the top two in each group are assured of progress. Algeria plays Mauritania on Tuesday.

“It’s a shame, but that’s the competition, that’s the Africa Cup,” Traoré said of missing the chance to guarantee Burkina Faso’s progress. “We have four points this evening. We’ll rest, and then we’ll go to win the third match.”

Algeria had made the better start but the Burkinabé improved as their opponents’ intensity dropped in the stifling heat. The temperature in Bouaké was 35 degrees C (95 F) when the game kicked off.

Konaté’s goal before the break was initially flagged offside, but a VAR check found he was in line with the last defender for Abdoul Tapsoba’s cross.

It set off unbridled celebrations among the many supporters who had made the relatively short trip southwest from neighboring Burkina Faso, which reached the semifinals in the last edition.

Bounedjah pounced after the break to equalize on the rebound after Koffi saved an effort from Nabil Bentaleb.

Tunisia, Mali share spoils

In the other AFCON fixture on the night, Tunisia held Mali to a 1-1 draw in an Eagles duel to earn its first point in Group E.

Mali forward Lassine Sinayoko fired the regular “Eagles” ahead in the 10th minute with a low shot in off the far post.

But Hamza Rafia equalized 10 minutes later for the “Carthage Eagles” when he squeezed his shot under the goalkeeper after a well-worked team move.

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Mali, which defeated South Africa in its opening game, moved top of the group on four points before South Africa’s game against Namibia on Sunday. Namibia enjoyed its first Africa Cup win by beating Tunisia 1-0 in their opening game.

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