African champions Algeria and Nigeria have become the latest two sides to progress to the play-off round of the Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers after both picked up draws in their last round of matches on Tuesday.
Algeria played to a 2-2 draw with Burkina Faso in Blida while Nigeria and Cape Verde played to a 1-1 stalemate, both matches being top of the table clashes.
Algeria 2-1 Burkina Faso
In Blida, unbeaten Algeria had to play with their hearts in their mouths in the last seven minutes of the game as they held on against a resilient Burkina Faso.
Issoufou Dayo had scored from the penalty spot to draw the Burkinabe level and they were determined to get the win that would have seen them not only break Algeria’s unbeaten run but also earn them a place in the play-off.
However, the home side defended well to guard the point that takes them closer to a ticket to Qatar.
Algeria broke the deadlock in the 21st minute when Youce Bellaili squared a ball from the left and the Manchester City forward had to simply side foot the ball home unmarked. Mahrez came close to a second in the 32nd minute when teed up by Islam Silimani but he curled the ball just wide.
Burkina Faso however got the equalizer in the 37th minute through Zakaria Sanogo who volleyed the ball home off a Gustavo Sangare through pass.
In the second half though, Algeria came with more vigour and they went back on top with substitute Feghouli finding the back of the net after another neat assist from Bellaili.
Despite being a goal down and needing two to progress, the Burkinabe side did not lose their hearts. They kept the fight and earned the equalizer seven minutes to time from the spot after Djamel Benlamri clipped Mohamed Outtara’s heels inside the box.
However, they could not conjure a comeback as Algeria played a 33rd match without tasting defeat.
Nigeria 1-1 Cape Verde
Elsewhere, Nigeria did the minimum required to progress to the play off round, the point against Cape Verde preserving their place on top.
They had a dream start when Victor Osimhen opened the scoring with a neat low finish after Moses Simon’s cross was poorly cleared out.
However, Cape Verde, who needed a win away from home to progress drew level five minutes later when Ianique dos Santos Tavares rushed sliding in at the backpost to connect to a Kenny Rocha Santos corner.
Alex Iwobi had a chance to take Nigeria back infront but his shot from distance was well handled by the keeper. Joe Aribo also came close for the Super Eagles, but his low drive off Odion Ighalo’s set up was once again saved by the keeper.
None of the two sides could add more to the scoresheet as Nigeria did just but enough to sail to the next round.
Meanwhile, Liberia beat Central Africa Republic 3-1 to finish third in the group. Marcus Macauley and Peter Wilson scored for the Liberians as they went 2-0 up in the first eight minutes of the game.
Isaac Ngoma halved the deficit for CAR in the 61st minute, but the Liberians confirmed the three points in the 74th minute, Wilson completing his brace.