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AFCON

Mauritania claim historic win to dump Algeria out of AFCON

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Mauritania's Souleymane Anne in action with Algeria's Youcef Atal in a Group D match at the African Cup of Nations REUTERS

Mauritania delivered another shock result at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations finals, defeating 2019 winners Algeria 1-0 and securing a historic berth in the last 16 at the Stade de la Paix on Tuesday.

Mauritania had never led in any of their previous eight continental finals matches, let alone won one. Still, a first-half goal from Yali Dellahi was enough to send Algeria packing, marking coach Djamel Belmadi’s side’s second consecutive embarrassing early exit after a similar failure in 2021.

Angola led Group D with seven points after three games, followed by Burkina Faso (four), whom they defeated 2-0. Mauritania (three) will be one of the four best third-placed teams, earning a knockout spot. Algeria finishes fourth with just two points.

Algeria appear to be a shadow of the team that won the championship in Egypt in 2019. They benched captain Riyad Mahrez against Mauritania but brought him on at halftime in a desperate attempt to alter their fortunes, which proved futile in the end.

Mauritania took the lead in the 37th minute after a poor clearance from Algeria defender Mohamed Amine Tougai fell to Dellahi in the box and his shot beat goalkeeper Anthony Mandrea and crept in off the post.

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It should have been 2-0 when Aboubakary Koita went on a mazy run in the second half and worked space for a shot but his effort was wild and spoiled what would have been one of the goals of the tournament.

Mauritania keeper Babacar Niasse then produced a superb save to keep out Hicham Boudaoui’s bullet header before he managed an even better reflex stop to deny Aissa Mandi from close range.

As Algeria pushed forward in search of an equaliser, they inevitably left gaps at the back and substitute Pape Ibnou Ba should have added a second for Mauritania late on but somehow missed the target from close range.

They were instead forced to survive 11 tense minutes of added time before being able to celebrate their AFCON victory.

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