Madagascar’s dream over, Tunisia and Algeria into Africa Cup of Nations semis

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Tunisia's midfielder Youssef Msakni (1st-L) scores a goal during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) quarter final football match between Madagascar and Tunisia at the Al Salam stadium in Cairo on July 11, 2019. (AFP / JAVIER SORIANO)
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Ivory Coast's Max Gradel in action with Algeria's Adlene Guedioura and Aissa Mandi at the Suez Stadium in Suez, Egypt, on July 11, 2019. (REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)
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Tunisia's Naim Sliti scores during the African Cup of Nations quarterfinal soccer match between Madagascar and Tunisia in Al Salam stadium in Cairo, Egypt, on July 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
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Algeria's Baghdad Bounedjah in action with Ivory Coast's Ibrahim Sangare at the Suez Stadium in Suez, Egypt, on July 11, 2019. (REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)
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Algeria's Adlene Guedioura in action with Ivory Coast's Wilfried Bony at the Suez Stadium in Suez, Egypt, on July 11, 2019. (REUTERS/Suhaib Salem)
Updated 12 July 2019
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Madagascar’s dream over, Tunisia and Algeria into Africa Cup of Nations semis

  • Tunisia will face Senegal in the semifinals in Cairo
  • Algeria and Nigeria play in the other semi

CAIRO: Madagascar’s fairy tale came to an end at the African Cup of Nations as the underdog was beaten 3-0 by Tunisia in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
Tunisia scored twice in eight minutes after halftime, and again in injury time. The North Africans controlled the game completely.
That set up a semifinal for Tunisia against Senegal and finally sent Madagascar, which was playing in its first major tournament, home.
Ferjani Sassi claimed the opener in the 52nd minute, helped by a big deflection off the backside of Madagascar defender Thomas Fontaine. Tunisia captain Youssef Msakni pounced on a rebound to make it 2-0.
Naim Sliti scored a third on a Tunisian breakaway deep in injury time as the Madagascans piled forward in search of something to give them hope.
Tunisia now faces Sadio Mane and the tournament favorite in the last four. Algeria and Nigeria play in the other semi. Both matches are on Sunday.
The Algerians blew a 1-0 lead and a penalty in regulation time before scraping past Ivory Coast in a dramatic shootout in their quarterfinal.
Tunisia deserved its win at Al Salam Stadium on the outskirts of Cairo, where Madagascar was hoping to continue a dream debut by making the last four.
It didn’t happen, but the African Cup first-timer it lit up the early parts of the tournament by stunning three-time champion Nigeria 2-0 in the group stage and getting past Congo, another former champion, in the last 16.




Caption

It was a surprise that Madagascar — ranked 108th by FIFA, just behind the Faroe Islands — even qualified for the tournament in Egypt. It ended up topping its group above Nigeria and making the last eight, and it also brought the Barea celebration to the world.
The team takes its nickname from a breed of cattle found in Madagascar, and the players celebrated each of their goals at the African Cup by putting their hands on either side of their heads and pointing their fingers up in the air like horns.
They had their country’s president and the African soccer body president, who is also from Madagascar, at Al Salam Stadium to cheer them on.
In Suez, the tense shootout between Algeria and Ivory Coast, which Algeria won 4-3, capped a pulsating quarterfinal that went end to end.
Wilfried Bony had his penalty saved in the shootout by Rais Mbolhi to give Algeria the advantage. But Youcef Belaili hit the post with a spot kick that would have won it for the Algerians.
Straight after, Ivory Coast captain Serey Die had to score to send the shootout to sudden death, and he cannoned his penalty off the same post to finally seal victory for the Algerians.
Die fell back flat on his back and put his hands over his face after his miss as the Algerians sprinted to the end of the field to celebrate with Mbolhi.
Algeria led in regulation after Sofiane Feghouli’s goal in the 20th minute. Striker Baghdad Bounedjah missed a penalty for Algeria soon after halftime, and Jonathan Kodjia equalized for Ivory Coast.
Bounedjah won the penalty himself when he was taken out by Ivory Coast goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo. With the chance to give Algeria a 2-0 lead, he hit his penalty high down the middle, and it clipped the crossbar and went over.
Ivory Coast took advantage.
Wilfried Zaha made a surging run and found Kodjia on the right. He cut in and put his shot in the bottom corner.
Bounedjah was substituted in the second half and spent the rest of the game in tears on the bench, fearing his miss had cost Algeria a place in the last four.
It didn’t, and Algeria still has the chance to win its second African title and first since 1990.


Di Maria scores 2 as PSG beats Madrid in Champions League

Updated 19 September 2019

Di Maria scores 2 as PSG beats Madrid in Champions League

  • Di Maria doubled the advantage when he struck again in the 33rd minute, found this time by Gueye

PARIS: No Neymar. No Kylian Mbappe. No problem.
With two first-half goals from Angel Di Maria and a rare late strike from right-back Thomas Meunier, a new-look Paris Saint-Germain missing its headline stars brushed aside a flat Real Madrid 3-0 in the Champions League to go top of Group A in an impressive start to its European campaign on Wednesday. 
Di Maria, a Champions League winner with Madrid in 2014, was rampant against his former club, using phenomenal speed and clever placing to torment a Madrid defense sorely missing the suspended Sergio Ramos.
The Argentine's first goal poked past Thibaut Courtois' near post in the 14th minute was his 25th in 100 European matches.
Some of PSG's new recruits were instrumental in the victory. Idrissa Gueye, bought from Everton, bossed the midfield.
Di Maria's opener originated with Mauro Icardi, a late loan-signing from Inter Milan. He linked up smartly with left-back Juan Bernat, who then found Di Maria in space in the box with a swift cut-back pass.
Di Maria doubled the advantage when he struck again in the 33rd minute, found this time by Gueye.
Di Maria caressed a pinpoint shot with his left foot from long range past the outstretched Courtois and celebrated enthusiastically as Paris fans lit red flares.
Gareth Bale thought he'd got a goal back moments later with a sweet volley over former Madrid teammate Keylor Navas, bought by Paris to provide added assurance behind the suffocating PSG defense that snuffed out Madrid at the Parc des Princes.
But referee Anthony Taylor spotted on video replay that the Wales winger had touched the ball with his right arm as he juggled it from his left foot to his right one before shooting.
Meunier's goal in second-half injury time was only his sixth in 48 European matches. Bernat's pass set up the strike. Up in the posh seats, the suspended Neymar and Mbappe, recovering from injury, chuckled together at the sight of the full-backs combining to score. Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane scowled.
Zidane lamented the lack of urgency from his side that had zero shots on target other than Bale's disallowed goal and another disallowed for offside in the second half.
"It was a weird sensation," he said, speaking through a translator. "We hardly ever got into the match."
Zidane refrained from singling out any player, saying "it's everybody's fault when we lose."
But James Rodriguez, back from Bayern Munich, was particularly ineffective. And Eden Hazard, bought from Chelsea, looked ring-rusty as he makes his way back from injury. A trademark dribble in the PSG area in the second half ended with Hazard tripping over himself and landing on his backside.
Zidane replaced them both with 20 minutes to play.
PSG coach Thomas Tuchel, on the other hand, had no problem singling out Gueye for praise. He clicked with Marco Verratti and the deeper-lying Marquinhos in the PSG midfield that purred as if they'd played together for years.
"He's a machine. He never stops, never stops running," Tuchel said. "Against a team like Madrid, that is super-important."
Tuchel suggested the absence of Neymar, Mbappe and PSG's record scorer Edinson Cavani, also recovering from injury, may have been a help rather than a hindrance.
Without them, outside observers figured PSG was unlikely to win, and that eased pressure on Tuchel's other players, the coach said.
When Neymar has served out the rest of his two-match ban, and Mbappe and Cavani are fit again, expectations will quickly rise in the wake of this humbling of Madrid that showed the strength in depth of PSG's expensively assembled team.
But PSG knows from bitter experience how hard the road will become in the Champions League, having failed to get beyond the quarterfinals since the club's wealthy Qatari owners took over in 2011.
Tuchel was eager to tamp down any buzz.
"If someone asks me if we are going to win the Champions League, I'm leaving," he said.