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Defending Champion Algeria Eliminated From Africa Cup of Nations in Group Stage

DOUALA, Cameroon (AP) — Defending champion Algeria was dumped out of the African Cup of Nations in the group stage on Thursday with a 3-1 loss to an Ivory Coast team that was rampant at times and announced itself as a contender for the title.

Ivory Coast's one-sided victory meant Algeria, which was again viewed as one of the favorites this year, exited without a win after two shock results earlier in the tournament left it bottom of Group E.

Algeria needed to beat Ivory Coast to progress after drawing with Sierra Leone and then finding itself on the wrong end of one of the biggest upsets in African Cup history when it lost to Equatorial Guinea on Sunday.

Equatorial Guinea followed up by beating 10-man Sierra Leone 1-0 in the other Group E game on Thursday to progress behind group winner Ivory Coast.

And, in a major surprise, the tiny island nation of Comoros won a place in the knockout stage as one of the best third-place teams after Sierra Leone's loss.

Comoros stunned Ghana 3-2 in Group C on Tuesday to send Ghana, another defending champion, home in the group stage.

Ghana and Algeria both finished bottom of their groups.

Algeria didn't come close to turning it around in its last group game as Ivory Coast surged into a 3-0 lead in Douala through goals by Franck Kessié and Ibrahim Sangaré in the first half and Nicolas Pépé in the 54th minute.

Kessié turned a volley in for the opener and Sangaré was completely unmarked from a free kick to power a header home. The Algerian defenders stood and looked at each other after the goal.

Pépé's goal was high quality as he bore down on goal, swerved in between two defenders, and stroked a shot into the left corner.

Riyad Mahrez missed a penalty after 60 minutes to encapsulate Algeria's miserable tournament. Mahrez beat Ivory Coast keeper Badra Ali Sangaré but his spot kick cannoned off the post.

Algeria did pull one back through Sofiane Bendebka's header. However, that did nothing to soften the blow of a disastrous tournament for the North Africans.

Sébastien Haller had an injury-time goal for Ivory Coast ruled out for offside after a long delay.

Ivory Coast set up a last 16 meeting with Egypt in what looks to be the game of the next round. Comoros' reward for its fabulous debut at the African Cup is a matchup with host Cameroon in the round of 16.

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