- Beat Senegal 1-0
BY COBHAM NSA – A wicked deflection from a shot taken by Baghdad Bounedjah gave Algeria its second African Nations Cup (AFCON) glory after 29 years of waiting.
Second best on the night for most of the final encounter, the Desert Foxes did everything within and outside the soccer books to defend their early lead against Senegal.
In a scrappy final played inside the Cairo International Stadium, the combative Algerians edged past the Senegalese Teranga Lions 1-0 on Friday night.
Bounedjah’s shot took a huge deflection off defender Salif Sane and looped over a stranded goalkeeper Alfred Gomes into an empty net.
Interestingly, that was Algeria’s only effort of note throughout the match and eventually proved to be the winner.
The Coach Djamel Belmadi’s men, who needed a sensational Riyad Mahrez’s last minute free kick to send Nigeria’s Super Eagles packing in the semi final, looked so ordinary against their West African opponents that were somewhat bereft of ideas going forward.
Also, the decisive moment for Senegal was the reversal of the referee’s decision to award them a penalty on the hour mark.
The Senegalese, who have never won the tournament, were given a penalty for handball in the second half but it was overturned after a VAR review.
With the North Africans closing out the game to win their first title since 1990, Senegal’s players collapsed on the pitch in tears at the referee’s final whistle.
Liverpool striker, Sadio Mane, who said before the game that he would not mind swapping his Champions League winners medal for Africa Cup of Nations success, looked disconsolate as the Algerians celebrated around him in the Stadium
Featuring in only their second final since 2002, the Teranga Lions dominated the game for large periods but struggled to make the most of their possession in front of goal
M’Baye Niang was at the centre of two of their best chances for the Senegalese as he flashed a fierce drive over the bar just before the break, and rounded keeper Rais M’bolhi early in the second half only to shoot wide from a tight angle.
The Algerian keeper M’Bolhi also did well to palm over a stinging effort from Youssouf Sabaly as the Senegalese saw their dream of a first continental title truncated by the North Africans – With agency reports Celebration time for the new African champions, Desert Foxes of Algeria