Pep Guardiola revealed Riyad Mahrez cut short his holiday following the Africa Cup of Nations, giving Manchester City a boost as Bernardo Silva dealt with an issue at West Ham on Saturday.

Mahrez captained Algeria to the AFCON title on July 19 but returned to start against West Ham in City's Premier League opener, providing two assists in a 5-0 win.

Guardiola was delighted to be able to call on the former Leicester City winger as he revealed Silva, a star of last season's title success, was left on the bench due to "little muscular problems".

"Riyad called me after they won [the AFCON]," Guardiola said. "He said, 'I need just 10 days. I want to come back soon. I want to play'. I like it. That's why I decide, 'Okay, I want to play him'.

"Bernardo had done nothing wrong, but there was some little muscular problems.

"I want them to know I trust all of them. That is the truth. After four seasons, I don't not like one player who is with us. I trust with them and they have to compete with opponents and with each other."

From West Ham's side, the post-match narrative involved complaints of City's apparent tactical fouling, with Manuel Pellegrini attributing this to his team's lack of creativity.

But Jack Wilshere had no issue with City's tactics, suggesting West Ham need to learn from such elite opponents.

"That's football," he said. "When you play against experienced players who understand the game, it's going to happen

"You can't get frustrated. They're clever players. A team like us who like to attack could learn from that. They do that counter press. They lose the ball and bang, they go straight away.

"They're going to make fouls. If you do get out of it, it happens so quickly and they bring you down."

Riyad Mahrez has been cleared to play for Manchester City after undergoing a doping test in the wake of his absence from last weekend's Community Shield.

Speaking after the penalty shoot-out victory over Liverpool at Wembley, Guardiola explained Mahrez was missing from the City squad because they could not be certain whether he had inadvertently ingested any banned substances while on international duty with Algeria at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Mahrez could return to City's squad for the first game of their Premier League title defence against West Ham on Saturday, though, with Guardiola revealing a visit from UK Anti-Doping testers had cleared the 28-year-old to feature.

"He had a little surgery after the African Cup on his nose so he could breathe better, it's a normal situation," Guardiola said.

"The doctor - I don't think he was from the national team - didn't send the necessary [paperwork], that was the only reason why [he didn't play]. We didn't have it in the right moment.

"But after the last week, anti-doping [agents] have made the test. Everything is clear and fine. He can play.

"Our doctors came to me and said they did not know exactly [what he had taken]. Every time you take something you have to inform the club and make the lists. Everyone knows it. We pass one or two controls every month here. 

"We didn't have it in that moment, he did it in Algeria. So it was a precaution, we had to be careful. It was better not to use him, that was the reason why. 

"After this week, they came and tested him and he's ready for tomorrow."

Mahrez may have a bigger impact in the City team in the coming months too - with fellow winger Leroy Sane facing up to seven months out with anterior cruciate ligament damage - having failed to live up to his club-record price tag in his debut season.

That title no longer belongs to the Algerian, though, after defensive midfielder Rodri was brought in from Atletico Madrid for a reported £63million, and Guardiola anticipates his new recruit will make a swift impact in England.

"When you think of defining the holding midfielder, he's a typical, typical holding midfielder," Guardiola added.

"Like Michael Carrick, like [Sergio] Busquets, [the] holding midfielder. You are thinking what is best for the team. He doesn't play to make a good performance, he plays to make it better for the others. No tattoos, no ponytails. Perfect. Normal. That is a holding midfielder.

"He's young, strong, helps us with the long balls, he's so intelligent. He learned at Atletico Madrid with [Diego] Simeone. The work he did with Simeone is going to help us a lot this season.

"I have the feeling. Sometimes, players need more time but, after a week or 10 days, we realised that guy will be nice for us."

Djamel Belmadi revelled in Algeria's "extraordinary, historic" Africa Cup of Nations final victory over Senegal.

Algeria became champions of Africa on foreign soil for the first time - adding to their 1990 success as hosts - thanks to Baghdad Bounedjah's decisive, deflected second-minute strike.

Belmadi believes his side deserved their triumph but deflected praise onto his players.

"It's extraordinary. It's historic," he told beIN Sports. "This is the first Cup of Nations we have won outside our borders.

"Since 1990, it has been a long, empty passage. We are a football country. We deserve it, I think.

"It was a very complicated match, very difficult. We knew that it was going to be decided on a small detail. And the boys held on.

"With the tournament we had, with better attack and better defence, what more? But without the players, I am nothing.

"We tend to forget that they are the main protagonists. They are the ones who play, who apply the instructions. They did it wonderfully - if not better."

Algeria became Africa Cup of Nations champions for a second time as they edged Senegal 1-0 in a scrappy final on Friday.

Djamel Belmadi's side needed a sensational last-gasp Riyad Mahrez winner to beat Nigeria in the last four, but it was a scrappy early strike that decided this clash as Baghdad Bounedjah benefited from a huge deflection.

Further chances were few and far between in an ill-tempered affair as Algeria withstood almost constant pressure and also saw a Senegal penalty award overturned with VAR.

The single goal ultimately proved enough to hold on, Algeria triumphing on foreign soil for the first time to add to their 1990 success as hosts.

Algeria's fortuitous opener arrived inside two minutes. Bounedjah cut inside from the left and saw a powerful strike loop up off the lunging Salif Sane, dropping over static goalkeeper Alfred Gomis into the top-right corner.

Senegal responded well, getting into dangerous positions and winning countless free-kicks, mainly through Sadio Mane, but their final ball was repeatedly found wanting.

Frustrations threatened to boil over late in the first half, with Mane escaping punishment for an off-the-ball shove on Sofiane Feghouli, although M'Baye Niang went close with a fizzing long-range drive.

The two sides came together to confront the referee at the break - Senegal bemoaning a non-penalty award for Ismaila Sarr - and Algeria substitute goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja went down claiming contact in the ensuing fracas.

And Senegal were further infuriated on the hour mark when a spot-kick initially awarded as Adlene Guedioura blocked Sarr's cross with his arm was struck off following a VAR review.

Niang rounded Rais M'bolhi but could only blaze high and wide, before the goalkeeper turned Youssouf Sabaly's blast over the crossbar.

Aliou Cisse's side kept pushing, yet there was no way through and Algeria clung to a scarcely deserved victory.

Old friends Aliou Cisse and Djamel Belmadi go up against each other for a shot at history as the two coaches take centre stage ahead of Friday's Africa Cup of Nations final.

There is little doubt Cisse's Senegal and Belmadi's Algeria have been the two standout sides at the 2019 AFCON, suffering just one defeat combined.

That single loss came in the group phase when Algeria defeated the Teranga Lions 1-0, with Senegal now having the opportunity for revenge.

But do not expect vengeance borne out of animosity to be on the mind of Cisse, as he and Belmadi know each other well having been former Ligue 1 adversaries.

The two coaches grew up in the same Paris suburb, Champigny-sur-Marne, while Senegal-born Cisse is just a day older than his counterpart.

Having had numerous tussles in their youth, in domestic French football and also at the AFCON as players, the two now do battle again with historic achievements on the line; Senegal hope to win the tournament for the first time, while Algeria have never lifted the trophy without being hosts.

"I haven't spoken to Aliou," Belmadi told reporters on Thursday. "It's not the time to talk right now, but we will talk after the game. Before the game also, there will be no problem.

"It's extraordinarily ironic that the two kids who grew up together in Champigny-Sur-Marne are now facing each other in the final. We should check if anything like that ever happened in the past.

"We used to play together as young boys in Paris. We grew up in the same city.

"It's amazing that we are now the head coaches for our national teams. Fate brought us to this final. It has a special taste."

Cisse remained entirely fixed on the task at hand, however, and is convinced the early defeat to Algeria has served a purpose by allowing Senegal to learn more about themselves.

"The second group match was a misstep on our part and this defeat allowed us to regroup, to be even stronger," Cisse said.

"Friday is a final, it's a special match, but it's not a question of holding a speech like going to war. We stay in football. We are very calm and focused."

Senegal will be without the suspended Kalidou Koulibaly, though Cisse insists he has a plan to cope without the Napoli star.

"Kalidou is one of the best in his position in the world, but we have the solution to replace him. We are ready," Cisse added.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Senegal – Cheikhou Kouyate

With key man Koulibaly absent, extra responsibility will fall on the shoulders of Kouyate. The experienced midfielder, who has featured as a centre-back at the AFCON, will likely be the senior figure in a defence that needs to stay alert – Algeria's forward options have been lively and potent throughout the tournament.

Algeria – Riyad Mahrez

While he has not necessarily lit the tournament up consistently, Mahrez's glorious late free-kick secured Algeria's spot in the final. It was his third goal of the competition, proving that even when he is not at his very best, he can still be an inspirational figure.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Algeria are unbeaten against Senegal in four AFCON encounters (winning three, drawing one). Moreover, the Teranga Lions are the team the Fennec Foxes have faced most without losing to in the AFCON.
- Senegal will play their second AFCON final, after 2002 (defeat to Cameroon). The Senegalese have won their last four games, their longest winning streak in the competition.
- Algeria will play their third AFCON final after 1980 (a 3-0 defeat to Nigeria) and 1990 (a 1-0 win, also against the Super Eagles). They have conceded two goals in the 2019 AFCON, only in 1984 have they conceded fewer in a single edition, whey they finished third, letting in one goal.
- Senegal forward Sadio Mane is the player who has attempted (34) and completed (20) the most dribbles.
- Nine Algeria players have been involved in at least one goal (excluding own goals) during the 2019 AFCON: Youcef Atal, Youcef Belaili, Ismael Bennacer, Ramy Bensebaini, Baghdad Bounedjah, Sofiane Feghouli, Riyad Mahrez, Adam Ounas and Islam Slimani. That is more than any other team.

Riyad Mahrez described Algeria reaching the Africa Cup of Nations final as "unbelievable" after setting up a showdown with Senegal thanks to his stunning last-gasp free-kick.

Mahrez was the hero in Cairo, where the Manchester City star curled a 95th-minute set-piece past Nigeria goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi to seal a dramatic 2-1 victory on Sunday.

Algeria had initially led through William Troost-Ekong's own goal before Nigeria equalised via an Odion Ighalo penalty with 18 minutes remaining following a VAR review.

Mahrez and Algeria will now contest their first AFCON final since winning the tournament on home soil in 1990 when they face Senegal on Friday.

After his man-of-the-match performance, Mahrez said: "It was a very tough game today against a strong team.

"We were one goal up and were in control before VAR's decision – they scored the penalty and in the last minute we converted our free-kick.

"We are very happy because to be in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations is something unbelievable.

"I think we have been very good in this tournament. We scored 12 goals and conceded two, that is the source of our confidence.

"We are looking forward to the final against Senegal. We played them in the group stage and we are expecting another tough game."

Algeria topped Group C ahead of Senegal, who lost 1-0 to the Desert Foxes on matchday two last month.

Riyad Mahrez scored a sensational free-kick in the 95th minute as Algeria beat Nigeria 2-1 to seal their place in the Africa Cup of Nations final.

Algeria led thanks to William Troost-Ekong's own goal but Nigeria hit back through Odion Ighalo's penalty, awarded following a VAR check.

Extra time was looming until Algeria, who have not been to the final since winning the tournament on home soil in 1990, won a free-kick on the edge of the box.

And Mahrez, star man for the Desert Foxes, bent the ball around the wall to beat Nigeria goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi and seal his country a place against Senegal in Friday's final.

Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi recognises his team are just two steps from "history" ahead of their Africa Cup of Nations semi-final with Nigeria, but reminded his players it will take their very best to lift the trophy.

The Fennec Foxes have been the standout side in the tournament, avoiding a single defeat in their five matches and conceding just once, that goal coming in the 1-1 quarter-final draw with Ivory Coast that they went on to win 4-3 on penalties.

Sunday's clash with Nigeria will be only Algeria's second semi-final since winning the competition as hosts in 1990, when they last contested the final.

While most coaches would look to deflect talk of such historic achievements and demand absolute focus, Belmadi reminisced about the 1990 victory and believes success this time around would be even more impressive as they are not playing on home soil.

"The one that we won was in 1990, a long time ago when it was at home. We've never won since. This is away from home, it's more difficult, of course," Belmadi told reporters.

"This is our target, we want to write our history and the players want to write their history as well.

"It's not far — two more steps, but two very difficult steps to this great achievement. We will try our best."

Nigeria have, for the most part, enjoyed a solid tournament as well, with their only hiccup coming in a surprise 2-0 defeat to minnows Madagascar in the final group match.

Since then the Super Eagles have seen off defending champions Cameroon and South Africa, the conquerors of Egypt - the hosts and one of the pre-tournament favourites.

Nigeria beat Algeria 3-1 and also drew 1-1 with them in World Cup qualifying, but coach Gernot Rohr is adamant the Fennec Foxes are in much better shape now under Belmadi.

"He's done a very professional job," Rohr said of Belmadi in his pre-match news conference on Saturday. "They were shaky at the time. We beat them 3-1 and they made lots of individual errors and defensive mistakes that made it easier for us to win. They were also fragile in the draw.

"Now I see a solid Algeria side with a good balance between attack and defence. They're still physical, but they have come on since and it will be a much harder match than in World Cup qualifying."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Algeria – Youcef Belaili

One of Algeria's form players at the AFCON, Belaili was particularly lively in the quarter-final against Ivory Coast. The attacker created five goal-scoring opportunities, more than anyone else on the pitch and has already proven himself to be decisive, having netted twice in the tournament.

Nigeria – Samuel Chukwueze

His goal in the 2-1 win over South Africa in the last round made 20-year-old Chukwueze the youngest goalscorer at the tournament. Possessing a dazzling combination of blistering pace and fine dribbling, the Villarreal star is an explosive talent and will surely be key if the Super Eagles are to get past Algeria.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Algeria and Nigeria will face each other for the ninth time in the AFCON, becoming the most regular encounter in the competition for both teams. The record between them is perfectly balanced, with three wins apiece and two draws.
- Algeria will play their seventh AFCON semi-final, their first since 2010, having qualified only twice in their previous six. Three of their AFCON semis have gone to penalties (winning once in 1980 and losing in 1984 and 1988).
- Nigeria will play their 14th AFCON semi-final, more than any other team. However, the Super Eagles have qualified for the final only once in their past five semis. It was against Mali in 2013 (a 4-1 win).
- Algeria midfielder Adam Ounas has been involved in a goal every 30 minutes in this year's tournament (three goals, one assist in 121 minutes played), the best ratio in the competition.
- Nigeria midfielders Peter Etebo (46) and Wilfred Ndidi (41) have won possession more times than any other outfield players at the AFCON.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has confirmed players will receive a massive bonus for Sunday's Africa Cup of Nations semi-final against Algeria.

Reports suggest Nigerian business magnates Aliko Dangote and Femi Otedola will finance the fund, which comes after a lengthy row between the Super Eagles players and the NFF over unpaid bonuses and allowances.

Players threatened to strike in the build-up to the tournament and then refused to appear for the pre-match news conference ahead of a Group B match against Guinea due to unpaid bonuses following their 1-0 win over Burundi.

A statement on NFF's official Twitter account said: "More Nigerians make cash pledge to boost the Super Eagles' morale, with two business moguls promising to give the team $50,000 each for every goal scored against Algeria."

Nigeria reached the semi-finals by beating South Africa 2-1 in a closely contested quarter-final, with William Troost-Ekong scoring the winner in the 89th minute.

Algeria set up an Africa Cup of Nations semi-final against Nigeria with a 4-3 penalty shoot-out victory over Ivory Coast following a 1-1 draw in Suez.

Sofiane Feghouli's goal against the run of play opened the scoring in the 20th minute, Rais M'bolhi having made a superb early save to keep Ivory Coast at bay.

But Baghdad Bounedjah's penalty miss handed Ivory Coast a lifeline early in the second half, with Jonathan Kodjia's fine effort restoring parity.

And after extra-time failed to serve up a winner, it was Algeria who came out on top in the shoot-out - Wilfried Bony and Serey Die missing their spot-kicks as their side crashed out.

Wilfried Kanon sliced wide from three yards out for Ivory Coast and his early miss proved costly when Feghouli coolly clipped home at the other end.

Matters looked set to get worse for Ivory Coast a minute into the second half when Sylvain Gbohouo lunged in on Bounedjah.

But Ivory Coast's luck was in and after Bounedjah's overhit spot-kick hit the top of the bar and stayed out, Kodjia drilled a low strike across M'bolhi to haul the Elephants level.

A fantastic block from Mamadou Bagayoko denied Riyad Mahrez before Wilfried Zaha skewed a volley over at the other end as extra time beckoned.

Ivory Coast looked the more likely to get a winner, with Ismael Traore's scuffed effort cleared off the line amid a goal-mouth scramble, but Algeria - who went close through substitute Andy Delort late on - held firm.

Bony's tame penalty proved comfortable for M'bolhi to deal with, though it was Die who missed the crucial spot-kick, with his attempt hitting the left-hand post as Algeria booked their place in the last four.

Ibrahim Kamara warned Ivory Coast that Riyad Mahrez will not be the only threat Algeria pose them in Thursday's Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final.

Algeria have cruised through the AFCON in emphatic fashion, winning all four of their matches without conceding a single goal, including a convincing 3-0 last-16 triumph over Guinea.

While Ivory Coast represent a greater challenge than Algeria have faced so far, the Fennec Foxes are one of the few remaining favourites following the shock exits of Egypt and Morocco.

Mahrez has unsurprisingly been a star for Algeria, though Adam Ounas is the joint-leading scorer in the competition with three and Youcef Belaili – similarly to the Manchester City winger – has two to his name.

Consequently, Kamara wants Ivory Coast to be completely alert to all the Algeria threats, not just Mahrez.

"Algeria is a great team. They do not play only with Riyad Mahrez. If so, the other players would stay in the locker room," Kamara said. "We will face a team that's difficult to handle.

"Djamel Belmadi has done an excellent job since he was made coach. I will not go so far as to say that I would have liked to avoid Algeria, because at this stage of the competition we have no choice.

"To be able to go all the way in this tournament, you have to play seven matches. We've played four, there are still three to go.

"Algeria is a great team, playing for the final coronation. We have our idea about the Algerian team, that is collectively strong with very good individuals."

As impressive as Algeria have been, Belmadi's side need to guard against complacency and he has urged his team to be ready to mount a response if they finally concede.

"We are now in a new stage where we will face difficulties, so we have to be aware," he said. "The players are determined and they will spare no effort to make the people happy.

"We have to have a good reaction in the case of conceding a goal, a scenario that until now we've not experienced during this AFCON. We'd need to recover our poise and change the game in our favour."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Ivory Coast – Wonlo Coulibaly

Algeria have been strong as an attacking unit in the competition, with much of their threat coming from the flanks. Mahrez will likely start, meaning Coulibaly could be in for a busy outing. The Elephants' left-back was solid against Mali, however, making six tackles, three clearances and five recoveries.

Algeria – Adam Ounas

Although Mahrez is Algeria's most notable name, Ounas has arguably had a greater impact than any of his team-mates at the tournament. The 22-year-old Napoli winger has three goals and one assist despite making just two appearances. He might start on the bench as he did against Guinea, but he showed he can impact the game as a substitute.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This will be the eighth game between Algeria and Ivory Coast in the Africa Cup of Nations, with the Elephants leading three wins to two (two draws).
- Algeria have reached the quarter-finals of the AFCON for the sixth time in their history, their first since they were eliminated by Ivory Coast in 2015. They are the third team to win their four first games in an AFCON campaign without conceding any goals, after Cameroon in 2002 and Ivory Coast in 2012.
- The Elephants will play their 10th AFCON quarter-final, only Ghana have played more (11). They have advanced in five of their last six knockout games in the competition (excluding the final).
- Ounas has been involved in four of Algeria's last six goals in the AFCON (three goals, one assist). He is the joint-top goalscorer of the tournament, alongside Odion Ighalo, Cedric Bakambu and Sadio Mane.
- Wilfried Zaha has scored two of Ivory Coast's last three goals in the AFCON. He netted in each of his past two games in the competition, after failing to do so in the first four.

Riyad Mahrez scored a fine goal as Algeria beat Guinea 3-0 in the Africa Cup of Nations last 16.

Djamel Belmadi's side, yet to concede a goal in the 2019 finals, made light work of their opponents in front of a sparse crowd in Cairo.

Youcef Belaili broke the deadlock 24 minutes in with a precise finish and Mahrez made the win safe in expert fashion before the hour mark, with Adam Ounas adding gloss to the scoreline following a swift counter-attack.

Algeria allowed only one shot on target throughout the match as they underlined their credentials as one of the favourites for the title, their chances having grown following the shock exits for Morocco and host nation Egypt.

Baghdad Bounedjah missed a golden chance to open the scoring 20 minutes in, side-footing over the bar after bringing down Adlene Guedioura's cross just six yards from goal.

Bounedjah made amends four minutes later, though, collecting Belaili's pass and flicking the return into his path, allowing the Esperance forward to slot past goalkeeper Ibrahim Kone.

Mohamed Camara stung the hands of Rais M'bolhi with a fierce strike, but Guinea's resistance effectively ended 57 minutes in, when Mahrez expertly eased away from Issiaga Sylla before sending Kone the wrong way.

Substitute Ounas completed the scoring by blasting home from 12 yards out after Youcef Atal crossed low from the right, meaning Algeria will head into a quarter-final against either Ivory Coast or Mali in confident fashion.

Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi said his side will settle for nothing less than a first Africa Cup of Nations triumph in 29 years as they prepare to face Guinea in the round of 16.

The Desert Foxes have been the tournament's outstanding team so far, winning all three of their matches without conceding a goal to top Group C.

Belmadi is aiming to become the first coach to guide Algeria to AFCON glory away from home soil, with their only taste of glory coming in 1990 when they beat Nigeria in the final in Algiers.

The coach said Morocco's shock defeat to Benin on penalties after a 1-1 draw in extra-time gave his side a reminder of the precarity of the knockout stages.

"The group stage is like a little tournament, which we did well in," said Belmadi. "Each game now is a final.

"Morocco's loss surprised me. We have to be prepared mentally so that we don't follow. We didn't exactly need a wake-up call. If we do lose, it'll be because Guinea are the better team.

"We did not come to be the first of the group, we did not come to reach the semi-final, we came for a very different goal that we have not achieved for a very long time."

Opposite number Paul Put praised Belmadi's achievements so far and said his side's mental strength would be pivotal if they are to reach the quarter-finals.

Guinea have reached the AFCON final once, finishing as runners-up to Morocco in 1976, and they have won one of their three matches so far, beating debutants Burundi 2-0 last time out.

"We know we can perform against Algeria," said Put. "We have to be realistic in the game and stay focused throughout.

"Belmadi is an excellent manager, and tomorrow the difference [between the two sides] will be decided by how well we prepare mentally. Facing Algeria, we need to be 200 per cent focused."


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Algeria - Ismael Bennacer

Empoli midfielder Bennacer was Algeria's key player in the group stage. His energy and craft on the Algeria left will be vital as they seek to expose Guinea's defensive flaws.

Guinea – Mohamed Yattara

Goals in either half from Mohamed Yattara against Burundi revived Guinea's ailing AFCON campaign and Put will be relying on the Auxerre forward to bury any chances that fall his way in Cairo.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- It will be the third AFCON encounter between Algeria and Guinea. The record is balanced: Algeria won 3-2 in March 1980, Guinea 1-0 in February 1998, each time at the group stage.
- Since their only AFCON title (1990), Algeria have won just once in their last six games in the knockout phase of the tournament (L5 – excluding third place games). That was against Ivory Coast in the 2010 quarter-final.
- Algeria have won their last three AFCON games (2-0 v Kenya, 1-0 v Senegal, 3-0 v Tanzania); the Desert Foxes have done better only once in tournament history - the 1990 edition (five) when they lift their only continental trophy.
- Islam Slimani has been involved in five of Algeria's last eight goals in the Africa Cup of Nations (three goals, two assists).
- Guinea's defender Issiaga Sylla is the player with the most touches in the group stage of the Africa Cup of Nations 2019 (257).

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