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AFCON 2021: Pepe on target as Ivory Coast draw

Nicolas Pepe

Nicolas Pepe slotted home a fine finish as Ivory Coast drew 2-2 with Sierra Leone in Group E of the Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday.

The Elephants were heavy favourites to win the match, and were handed the perfect opportunity to open the scoring early one when Wilfried Zaha was taken down in the box, but Franck Kessie’s penalty was saved.

Midway through the first half, the Ivorians did take the lead when former West Ham striker Sebastien Haller raced through and slotted home.

But Sierra Leone equalised 10 minutes into the second half through a fine strike from Musa Noah Kamara, prompting a swift response from their opponents.

Pepe put his side back in front with a curling effort into the bottom corner after good work from Haller and Ibrahim Sangare, and the Ivorians went on to miss a number of chances to put the game to bed.

That came back to haunt them when, in the third minute of stoppage time, Elephants goalkeeper Badra Sangare made a big error trying to stop the ball going out for a corner, and Alhadji Kamara was able to score a dramatic equaliser.

The result still leaves Ivory Coast top of Group E with four points from two matches, although they will face defending champions Algeria in their final group-stage match.

Elsewhere, Mohamed Elneny played the full 90 minutes as Egypt got their campaign up and running with a narrow 1-0 win against Guinea-Bissau on Saturday.

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scored the only goal of the game for the seven-times winners in the 21st minute, while Elneny was booked.

The result leaves Egypt second in Group D, and will face Sudan in their final match on Wednesday knowing a draw will be enough to see them through to the knockout stages.

Omar Rekik came on in the 81st minute as Tunisia thrashed Mauritania in Group F on Sunday.

Having lost their opening match in controversial circumstances to Mali, the Carthage Eagles needed a response and got it as goals from Hamza Mathlouthi (2), Wahbi Khazri and Seifeddine Jaziri sealed the win.

Tunisia are third in Group F, and will face Gambia in their final match on Thursday.

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