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Disgraceful Discipline Costs Desert Foxes Dear

Three players sent off, and four goals conceded; could Algeria have come up with a more shocking display, after their excellent victory over the Ivory Coast in the quarter finals? I doubt it. Six-time champions Egypt racked up four simple goals as they dominated ‘Les Fennecs’ from start to finish, in a hotly-contested North African derby. Compared to their controversial victory in Sudan just ten weeks ago, Algeria disappointed their fans who had travelled thousands of miles to Angola.

Portsmouth's Belhadj was dismissed for a disgraceful lunge on Al Muhammadi
Portsmouth’s Belhadj was dismissed for a disgraceful lunge on Al Muhammadi

With both sides unchanged from their quarter final encounters, the match began at a high tempo, with an influx of physical challenges. If anything, Algeria looked the most likely to score, soaking up any Egyptian pressure before launching a quick counter-attack. Karim Ziani’s long range effort went narrowly wide, before Bougherra headed over from a Belhadj corner. Egypt started to take a stranglehold of the game, and forced the first clear-cut opportunity of the half. Mohamed Zidan flicked the ball to Motaeb, whose curling effort was well saved by Chaouchi.

The trouble began to flare up after thrity-six minutes, when Rafik Halliche – already booked – sluggishly brought Motaeb down inside the box, duly being given his marching orders. Abd Rabou despatched the penalty, although his stop-start approach incensed Chaouchi, who chased down the referee before appearing to raise his hands to him. Luckily, only a yellow card was received. Bougherra then caught Rabou with an elbow, although the offence was not seen by the officials. The fireworks had started.

Abdelshafi scored with his first touch to make it 3-0
Abdelshafi scored with his first touch to make it 3-0

As the second half began, there only seemed to be one winner. Motaeb and Zidan saw close range efforts go off target, before Algeria’s Yebda has his free-kick beaten out by El Hadary. Rabou almost doubled the lead with his stinging shot, before the goal finally came. Zidan picked up a loose ball before dancing  around two defenders and expertly curling home from the edge of the box. Algeria’s frustration told just two minutes later, with Portsmouth’s Belhadj rightly dismissed for a reckless two-footed lunge on Al Muhammadi.

In the last ten minutes, Egypt’s superiority in numbers told, adding two more goals to create a humiliating scoreline. Abdelshafi scored with his first touch, sumptuously slotting home from a narrow angle, before ‘Les Fennecs’ already depleted team lost another player. Chaouchi, who was lucky to still be on the pitch, received a second yellow for a wild swing at Gedo who ran onto an offside pass. Gedo then picked himself up to roll in a fourth from ten yards to seal the ‘Pharaohs’ revenge emphatically, and book a place in the final against Ghana.

Chaouchi was one of three Algerians to be dismissed
Chaouchi was one of three Algerians to be dismissed

After the match, Algerian coach Rabah Saadane told BBC Sport, ‘The referee decided the outcome. He gave our best defender [Halliche] a red card for what was not a penalty. “And when we had to play with three men down, it was impossible to come back against a team like Egypt, who play the ball around very well.’

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