REPORT: Mahrez brace claims point for Algeria
Riyad Mahrez scored twice as Algeria left it late to earn a 2-2 draw with Zimbabwe at the Africa Cup of Nations.
The reigning CAF Player of the Year put his side ahead with a curling shot in off the post.
But Kudakwashe Mahachi’s low shot into the corner and a Nyasha Mushekwi penalty made it 2-1 to Zimbabwe – a lead they held until the 82nd minute.
Algeria hit the bar twice before Mahrez levelled with a speculative 25-yard shot that Zimbabwe goalkeeper Tatenda Mukuruva should have saved.
While Mukuruva may feel embarrassed at his error, Algeria just about managed to save their own blushes as they rescued a point from their Group B opener – a match they were very much expected to win.
Zimbabwe, making their first appearance at the finals since 2006, will perhaps count themselves a little unlucky after playing some excellent football.
Khama Billiat was superb for the Warriors and was only denied a spectacular 30-yard goal by an outstanding fingertip save from Algeria goalkeeper Rais Mbholi, who diverted the ball on to the post.
Mbholi thwarted Billiat on more than that one occasion and also produced a brilliant save with his leg to keep out Cuthbert Malajila’s shot when the score was 2-1 to Zimbabwe.
But Algeria improved considerably after the interval and forced Zimbabwe back.
They hit the woodwork twice, through a Ramy Bensebaini header and when Zimbabwe defender Elisha Muroiwa narrowly avoided an own goal when he sliced a clearance.
Mahrez proved their saviour, even if it will not go down as the cleanest strike he has ever hit.
And the Desert Foxes had chances to win the match, particularly when Mukuruva came flying out and left his goal wide open but Yacine Brahimi could not take advantage.