Algeria have gotten off to a flyer in their qualification campaign for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, thrashing Group H rivals Zambia 5-0 at the Mustapha Tchaker Stadium in Blida on Thursday night.
Ramy Bensebaini, Baghdad Bounedjah (two), Youcef Belaili and Hillal Soudani scored the goals as the Fennec Foxes began the defence of their 2019 AFCON title with an emphatic victory.
Algeria dominated from the opening minutes and should have claimed an early lead through Youcef Belaili, who shot wide after great set-up play from Baghdad Bounedjah.
The Fennec Foxes had further chances for Belaili and Sofiane Feghouli, while on the 20 minute mark Bounedjah struck an effort which looked destined for the back of the net but bounced over the crossbar.
Algeria kept knocking on the door and were finally rewarded late in the first half, with defender Ramy Bensebaini scoring with his shoulder from a set piece to put the home side 1-0 up heading into the interval.
Zambia nearly claimed an equaliser early in the second half, but Justin Shonga saw his effort well saved by Rais M’Bohli.
The goalkeeper made another save in the 67th minute and Algeria ensured his efforts weren’t in vain when they went up the other end and won a penalty, with Belaili brought down in the 18-yard area. Bounedjah scored from the spot to put daylight between Algeria and Zambia.
The North African giants had broken the spirit of their opponents by this stage, and a third goal duly arrived in the 75th minute, with Belaili’s endeavour rewarded with an outstanding solo strike.
Algeria added to Chipolopolo’s pain with a goal from substitute Hillal Soudani in the 86th and another goal from Bounedjah in the final minute of regulation time.
The teams will return to Group H action early next week. Algeria will be away to Botswana on Monday, while Zambia host fierce rivals Zimbabwe on Tuesday.
Algeria (1) 5 (Bensebaini 44’, Bounedjah 69’ pen 90’, Belaili 75’, Soudani 86’)
Algeria: M’Bohli, Atal, Belaili (Soudani 81’), Benlamri, Mandi, Bensebaini, Bennacer, Guedioura (Slimani 78’), Feghouli (Belkebla 71’), Mahrez, Bounedjah
Zambia: Nsabata, Sunzu, Tandi, Chama (Mwape 56’), Chongo, Chungu, Kangwa, Mulenga (Musakanya 80’), Phiri, Shonga, Sinkala