Zambia overcome double blow to beat Algeria
Zambia overcame conceding a goal and having a player sent off inside 60 seconds to score a historic 3-1 World Cup qualifying victory over Algeria in Lusaka Saturday.
Brian Mwila scored twice to give the “Chipolopolo” (Copper Bullets) a two-goal half-time advantage before a near-capacity crowd at the 60,000-seat National Heroes Stadium.
But Yacine Brahimi halved the deficit on 55 minutes and a minute later Fashion Sakala was red-carded after a second caution on a hot, cloudless afternoon.
Algeria could not take advantage of playing against 10 men, however, and Enock Mwepu sealed a first Group B triumph for Zambia with an 89th-minute goal.
It was the first Zambian win over the Algerians in World Cup qualifying after failing to score in four losses stretching back to the mid-1980s.
Success gave the southern Africa nation a glimmer of hope in a mini-league being dominated by Nigeria, who thrashed African champions Cameroon 4-0 in Uyo Friday.
– Nigeria eye Russia –
Nigeria have a maximum nine points after three rounds, Zambia four, Cameroon two and 2014 World Cup last-16 qualifiers Algeria just one.
Cameroon host Nigeria in Yaounde Monday and Algeria are at home to Zambia in Blida Tuesday on matchday four.
Depending on the results, Nigeria could become the first qualifiers from Africa for the 2018 World Cup in Russia with two matches to spare.
Mwila rattled the woodwork with a header before nodding Zambia into a sixth-minute lead and scored again on 33 minutes, this time poking a rebound into the net.
Brahimi scored via a superb shot from inside the “D” to offer Algeria hope only for Mwepu to put the result beyond doubt with a low shot from inside the box.
Tunisia replaced the Democratic Republic of Congo as Group A leaders thanks to a 2-1 victory in Rades on the outskirts of Tunis.
Yassine Meriah converted a penalty to give the “Carthage Eagles” a lead that was cancelled two minutes before half-time through a Cedric Bakambu header.
A close-range shot from Ghilane Chaalani two minutes into the second half proved decisive and Tunisia finished the match stronger.
They have nine points, DR Congo six, Guinea three and Libya are without a point at the halfway stage of the mini-league.
Morocco trounced nine-man Mali 6-0 in Rabat to replace the Ivory Coast as Group C leaders after a match that produced two red and eight yellow cards.
Malians Mohamed Konate and Bakaye Dibassy were sent off in the second half after second yellow cards, creating space for Morocco to go on a goal spree.
Hakim Ziyech scored twice for the “Atlas Lions” and Khalid Boutaib, Achraf Hakimi, Faycal Fajr and Mimoun Mahi once.
Morocco have five points, the Ivory Coast four, Gabon two and Mali one ahead of a clash between the Gabonese and Ivorians in Libreville later Saturday.