Zambia win to keep 2018 hopes

Brian Mwila scored two first-half goals as 10-man Zambia claimed their first victory of the group phase of Africa’s World Cup qualifiers and effectively ended Algeria’s hopes with a 3-1 triumph on Saturday.

 

Zambia moved into second place in Group B as they advanced to four points, but are still five points behind leaders Nigeria, who won 4-0 at home to Cameroon on Friday.

Algeria are virtually out of the race after having qualified for the 2010 and 2014 finals, where they reached the round of 16. They have just a single point with three games to play.

Algeria’s preparations were disrupted by a decision to allow African Footballer of the Year Riyad Mahrez to return to Europe to try and secure a transfer away from Leicester City, which proved unfruitful. As a result, he missed Saturday’s game.

Mwila hit the upright in the fifth minute before finding the net within 60 seconds, rising between two Algerian defenders to head home a cross from Augustine Mulenga.

Teenage prodigy Patrick Daka set up a second goal in the 33rd minute as he cut in to cross for Fashion Sakala, whose scuffed shot was parried by Algeria goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi, with Mwila first to the rebound.

Algeria pulled a goal back with powerful left-footed shot from Yacine Brahimi in the 55th minute and were given a further window of opportunity when debutant Sakala, 20, was dismissed for a second cautionable foul a minute later.

But 19-year-old Enock Mwepu, also making his international debut, came on to score on the counter in the final minute to make sure of home success.

In Libreville, Ivory Coast were 3-0 winners over Gabon to go top of Group C, two points above Morocco who thrashed Mali 6-0 on Friday.

After a barren first half, Max Gradel opened the scoring for the visitors with a goal in the 53rd minute.

Seydou Doumbia - currently on loan at Sporting in Portugal from Roma - then struck twice in six minutes to give the Elephants the win.

Both his goals were supplied by Gervinho, the first coming on 77 minutes when he lifted the ball over Gabon's goalkeeper.

His second, on 83 minutes, went in off the far post after a sweetly-struck strike.

Gabon were without their talismanic forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who was not available for this fixture.

Ivory Coast have not lost in World Cup qualifying for 26 games - a run that has been going for 12 years.

On Tuesday, the two teams will face each other again in Bouake.

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