Algeria’s forward Riyad Mahrez (C) celebrates with Algeria’s midfielder Yacine Brahimi (R) and Algeria’s forward Islam Slimani after scoring a second goal during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations group B football match between Algeria and Zimbabwe in Franceville on January 15, 2017.
KHALED DESOUKI / AFP
Current African footballer of the Year, Riyad Mahrez, scored twice but Algeria had to settle for a 2-2 draw with rank outsiders, Zimbabwe, as their Africa Cup of Nations campaign got off to a slow start in Franceville yesterday.
Mahrez gave Algeria an early lead in the Group B match but Kudakwashe Mahachi quickly equalised and a penalty before the half-hour mark scored by Nyasha Mushekwi had the Warriors in front.
In an action-filled encounter Zimbabwe — whose build-up to the finals was overshadowed by a row over bonuses — were just eight minutes away from claiming a famous victory before Mahrez struck again to secure a share of the spoils.
The Leicester winger opened the scoring just 12 minutes into the tie after cutting inside on his left foot and curling a succulent effort into the far corner.
But Algeria were left stunned by a spectacular first-half display from Zimbabwe, who fought back to lead the game by the break.
Kudakwashe Mahachi and Nyasha Mushekwi found the net for the underdogs.However it was Mahrez, by far Algeria’s most influential player, who ensured that Algeria’s campaign did not get off to the worst possible start with a powerful effort from 20 yards to level the game inside the final 10 minutes.