Algeria crashed out of AFCON at the group stage after a shock 1-0 defeat by minnows Mauritania as boss Djamel Belmadi’s decision to drop Riyad Mahrez backfired

Algeria crashed out at the Africa Cup of Nations as Mohamed Dellahi’s first-half goal proved enough to earn Mauritania a shock 1-0 first win of the tournament and a ticket to the last 16.

Dellahi punished some lax defending in the 36th minute and – despite a second-half onslaught – two-time tournament winners Algeria could not find an answer as they finished bottom of their group for the second consecutive AFCON, while Mauritania advanced as one of the top teams in third.

After running into trouble after two consecutive draws, Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi dropped Riyad Mahrez to the bench as he tried to freshen up his side, but it didn’t work as Mauritania proved a stubborn opponent.

Algeria dominated possession and Adam Ounas tried to catch Babacar Niasse, shaped a cross and hit a brutal shot that the keeper clawed well behind.

But Mauritania stunned Algeria late in the half. Anthony Mandrea parried a stinging shot from Souleymane Anne but Algeria failed to clear the resulting corner and when Omar Gassama’s shot was blocked the ball fell to Dellahi to fire home to give Mauritania their first ever lead in AFCON play.

Strevle Mauritania won a place in the last 16 at the Africa Cup of Nations

Mohamed Dellahi’s first-half goal gave Mauritania a shock 1-0 win over Algeria

Substitute Riyad Mahrez came on at half-time, but Algeria could not find an equaliser

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Mahrez came on on the break as Algeria looked to turn up the heat, but Mauritania remained a threat and Aboubakary Koita weaved his way around three defenders in the box before sending an off-balance shot over.

At the other end, Niasse broke off his line to cut out Ramiz Zerrouki’s long ball forward but needed Ibrahima Keita to scramble back to block Youcef Belaili’s shot at his unguarded goal.

Algeria looked desperate but it was Mauritania who had the late chances to score as Lamine Ba hit the crossbar before Guessouma Fofana was blocked by the keeper.

Eleven minutes were added and Algeria were agonizingly close again, Baghdad Bounedjah nudging the ball inches wide as Aissa Mandi’s shot was blocked by Niasse, but it was Mauritania’s night.

Angola finished top of Group D at the Africa Cup of Nations final as striker Mabululu’s first-half header and Zini’s stoppage-time finish secured a 2-0 win over Burkina Faso on Tuesday.

Angola finished with seven points and Burkina Faso second with four points. Mauritania were third with three points after an upset win over Algeria knocked out top seeds Ivory Coast in another of the surprises that characterized the competition.

Mabululu’s 36th-minute header at the Charles Konan Banny Stadium came when Burkina Faso’s Bertrand Traore failed to clear a free-kick from Angola captain Fredy and the striker headed in at the near post for his second goal of the tournament.

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