Mauritania took the lead in the 18th minute, after a goal from El Hacen El Id. However Algeria came out strong in the second-half, Sofiane Hanni, Baghdad Bounedhaj and Nabil Bentaleb helped the Desert Foxes to a 3-1 victory.
It was George Leekens’ first home game in charge of the Algerian National team and he opted to leave out star players, such as CAF’s 2016 player of the year Riyad Mahrez. Islam Slimani, Yacine Brahimi and Rais M’bolhi were also left out.
Mauritania looked the stronger team from the very begging of the match, as in the sixth minute they appealed for a penalty, after a poor challenge.
Algeria’s first chance of the game came in the 11th minute, Baghdad Bounedjah looked to quickly play in Hanni, but the goalkeeper was capable of picking up the ball.
Mauritania were already one goal up 18 minutes into the game, a penalty was awarded, after a poor tackle from Hicham Belkaroui, El Id with a nice finish put it past Malik Asselah from the penalty spot.
31 minutes in and Bounedjah headed into the back of the net, but the goal was harshly ruled out for off-side.
The game changed in the second half as the Desert Foxes scored the equaliser in the 53rd minute, a fantastic finish from Hanni, as he flicked the ball into the back of the net from Saphir Taider’s corner.
Seven minutes later saw Bounedjah going down inside the box, but the referee booked him for simulation.
Algeria then took the lead in the 73rd minute through Bounedjah’s header from Taider’s free-kick.
A Mauritanian player then decided to test Asselah from 40 yards out, the Algerian keeper struggled to get a hold of it first time.
Algeria had more chances to extend their lead, this time through Hanni who headed wide from a Taider corner.
Four minutes before the 90 saw another chance for Algeria, Nabil Bentaleb’s shot lacked power and was straight at the Mauritanian goalkeeper.
A minute later and Algeria’s full-back, Mokhtar Belkhiter with a brilliant strike but it was well saved by Mauritania’s goalkeeper.
Bentaleb sealed the game with seconds left of the match, Hanni made a great run down the left, the midfielder then flicked the ball towards Bounedjah in the box, the forward’s first time pass fell for Bentaleb who had enough time to stop the ball and score in the 90th minute.