BY STEVE AYOO
Wilfried Bony and Serey Die missed their penalty kicks as the Ivory Coast were bundled out of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, losing 4-3 to Algeria on post-match penalties after a 1-1 result in Suez.
The duo, undoubtedly the two most experienced players in the Elephants squad, let penalty-kicking nerves get the best of them as Bony’s weak effort was gathered by Algeria keeper Rais M’Bolhi, while Die hit the bottom of the post.
Algeria also missed through Youcef Belaili but it didn’t prove as costly as they booked a semifinal date with Nigeria on July 14.
The two sides were level 1-1 at the end of normal and extra time as Jonathan Kodjia’s first goal of the competition canceled Sofiane Feghouli’s 20th minute strike.
It was the first goal that Algeria conceded at the 2019 edition.
Before Kodjia’s equalizer which came just after the hour mark, Algeria were gifted an opportunity to double their lead when they were awarded a penalty just three minutes into the second half.
Baghdad Bounedjah stepped forward to take but he sent his effort over the bar despite wrong footing Sylvain Gbouhouo who conceded the spot kick.
The Elephants set off quick as Max Gradel’s effort from outside the area was pushed onto the post by M’Bolhi just six minutes in. Kodjia then failed to finish Wilfried Zaha’s fine cross before Algeria threatened through Riyad Mahrez who fired just wide.
Wilfried Kanon saw his effort hacked off the line before the Desert Foxes assumed the lead after 20 minutes, Feghouli providing a neat finish from a Ramy Bensebaini squared pass.
Algeria got a penalty immediately after the restart as Ivorian keeper Gbohouo rashly tackled Bounedjah and the referee Bamlak Tessema Weyesa awarded a penalty to Algeria which was confirmed by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).
Bounedjah fancied himself but aimed a couple of inches too high as his effort kissed the crossbar on its way out.
Immediately after, Aissa Mandi almost netted an own goal as a Kodjia pass flicked off the centerback before luckily hitting the bar and out.
Bounedjah’s penalty miss would come to bite just after the hour mark as Kodjia found the bottom corner after some fine individual work from Zaha.
Algeria had two good opportunities to win it in normal time but Gbouhouo kept out good efforts from Bounedjah and Adlene Guedioura.
In extra time, Islam Slimani was superbly denied by Gbouhouo while Ivory Coast substitute Cheick Comara sent a promising header over the bar as penalties were ushered in.