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Mahrez powers African champions Algeria past Mali in friendly

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A second-half strike from the Manchester City star separated the Desert Foxes from the Eagles on Sunday evening

Algeria defeated Mali 1-0 in Sunday’s international friendly played at Blida’s Stade Mustapha Tchaker.

Riyad Mahrez’s second-half effort separated both teams as the Desert Foxes and Eagles stepped up preparations for their 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers.

Heading into the encounter, the North Africans had gone on a run of nine games without defeats in all competitions.

For Mohamed Magassouba’s men, they faced the reigning African champions fuelled by a 3-0 triumph over Chad their last time out.

In the keenly contested affair, Algeria dominated every department of the game, nonetheless, they were unable to peg down the West Africans who featured majorly foreign-based professionals in their starting XI.

Nonetheless, the first 45 minutes ended in a 0-0 draw.

Djamel Belmadi’s men stepped up their game in the second half and that paid off in the 56th minutes as Mahrez put them ahead thanks to an assist from 29-year-old Youcef Belaili.

Receiving a cross from the Qatar based striker, the Manchester City star beat the offside trap before lobbing the ball over goalkeeper Djigui Diarra who came off his line.

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That goal proved to be the decider as Mali lament their inability to convert the few chances that came their way.

After featuring for 85 minutes, Mahrez was substituted for West Ham United’s Said Benrahma.

Whereas, Al-Sadd’s Baghdad Bounedjah, Borussia Monchengladbach’s Ramy Bensebaini and Al Ettifaq’s Rais M’Bolhi were in action from start to finish.

Belmadi’s side would be hoping to extend their unbeaten run to 11 when they tackle Tunisia on Thursday night. For Mali, they would be aiming to return to winning ways on the same day against Congo DR.

After their friendly against the Carthage Eagles, Mahrez and his teammates will lock horns with Burundi in their last June fixture.

The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations champions will resume international football in August when they face Djibouti in a World Cup qualification fixture.

Zoned in Group A alongside Burkina Faso and Niger Republic, Algeria would be eyeing their fifth World Cup appearance in Qatar.

Their last outing at the quadrennial football showpiece was at Brazil 2014 when they crashed out in the Round of 16 after bowing 2-1 to eventual champions, Germany.



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