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Drogba spurs fightback, Lions skinned

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DROGBA-BELGIUMZURICH, March 6- Algeria won, Côte d’Ivoire and Tunisia drew while Ghana and Cameroon lost as African qualifiers prepared for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil with international friendlies on Wednesday.

Striker El-Hilal Soudani put Algeria ahead in first-half stoppage-time and Inter Milan midfielder Saphir Taider added a second goal for a 2-0 victory over Slovenia in Blida.

It was an encouraging result for the Desert Foxes, at a ground where they are almost invincible, ahead of facing Belgium, South Korea and Russia in Group H during June’s football showpiece event.

Substitutes Didier Drogba and Max Gradel scored as Côte d’Ivoire came from two goals behind to hold Belgium 2-2 in Brussels.

Marouane Fellaini and Radja Nainggolan struck before Drogba halved the deficit on 74 minutes and Gradel snatched the stoppage-time equaliser.

The comeback will boost a Les Elephants side recently called “slow and old” by former manager Philippe Troussier.

After first round exits in 2006 and 2010, Côte d’Ivoire got a kinder Cup draw this time, sharing Group C with Colombia, Greece and Japan.

Ghana had first-choice centre-backs John Boye and Jonathan Mensah back from lengthy injuries only to lose 1-0 away to lower-ranked Montenegro in Podgorica.

The Black Stars, who face a daunting Group G mission against Germany, Portugal and USA, were undone by a first-minute penalty Dejan Damjanovic converted.

After falling behind to a James Rodrigues penalty, Tunisia recovered under caretaker coach Nizar Khanfir and Mohamed Khazri levelled before the break.

Later, Cameroon were taken to the clinic by a young Portugal XI who inflicted a heavy defeat of 5-1 in a match that saw Cristiano Ronaldo bag a brace.

The Africans were on level terms at half-time, but fell away in the second period.

Ronaldo made the most of shambolic Cameroon defending by scoring twice to help his team to a 5-1 friendly win on Wednesday and become Portugal’s all-time leading scorer.

Ronaldo took his international tally to 49, two more than the previous record set by Pauleta, as Portugal ran rings around the Indomitable Lions in a meeting of two World Cup finalists.

Portugal went ahead in the 21st minute when Joao Pereira pulled the ball back from near the byline and found Ronaldo, who shimmied past his marker and fired a low shot past Guy Rolland Ndy Assembe to set a new scoring record.

The hosts did not have it all their own way and Vincent Abubakar levelled two minutes before the break when he was given time to control the ball on his chest and score with a shot on the turn.

Contrasting fortunes for Egypt, South Africa

RONALDO-CAMEROONNon-World Cup qualifiers Egypt, Guinea, South Africa and Tunisia met teams who will be in Brazil, and there were contrasting results.

Egypt defeated debutants Bosnia Herzegovina 2-0 in Austria, Guinea upset Iran 2-1 in Tehran, Tunisia held Colombia 1-1 in Barcelona, but South Africa suffered a 5-0 thrashing by Brazil in Soweto.

It was a great start for Egypt coach Shawky Gharib after many years assisting Hassan Shehata and American Bob Bradley.

Mohamed ‘Gedo’ Nagy put the Pharaohs ahead on 52 minutes in Innsbruck and Mohamed Salah added a second not long after.

Kevin Constant and Ibrahima Traore were the Guinean first-half scorers in Iran, who pulled one goal back during the second half.

Barcelona star Neymar scored a hat-trick as Brazil ruthlessly exposed South African defensive frailties to triumph 5-0 before a 50,000 Soccer City stadium crowd

Other friendlies featured teams preparing for 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and the stand-out performance came from Zimbabwe against Malawi.

The Warriors triumphed 4-1 in Blantyre through goals from Peter Moyo, Pascal Manhanga, Ali Sadiki and Kudakwashe Mahachi.

There was late drama in Windhoek as Hamis Mcha gave Tanzania an 88th-minute lead and Panduleni Nekundi equalised deep in stoppage time.

-FIFA.com and Daily Mail

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