Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez scored a late winner from free-kick as Algeria reached her first AFCON final in 29 years with a 2-1 semifinal win against the Super Eagles of Nigeria at the Cairo International Stadium on Sunday, Completesports.com reports.
The Algerians were gifted a free-kick on the edge of the box, and as expectation tilted towards an extra time, Mahrez curled his kick beyond the reach of Daniel Akpeyi to end Super Eagles’ fourth AFCON title quest at Egypt 2019.
The Algerian pair of Belaili and Baghdad Bounedjah kept the Super Eagles defence line under constant pressure as the Foxes’ pace threatened Eagles rear time and again.
After an earlier howler, goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi came to Super Eagles’ rescue on 28 minutes when he saved Belaili’s close range strike after out pacing Kenneth Omeruo.
Two minutes later, the Super Eagles came close to taking the lead but Samuel Chukwueze’s free-kick from the edge of the Algerian box was properly dealt with by goalkeeper Raid M’Bolhi.
Six minutes before the halftime whistle, Jamilu Collins denied Bounedjah when he cleared into corner with the pacy forward set to strike on goal.
The box to box contest continued as Alex Iwobi set up Ighalo but his strike went wide.
Then, danger struck for Nigeria on 41 minutes when Algeria took the lead after William Troost-Ekong diverted Riyadh Mahrez’s cross into his own net.
But the Super Eagles raised their game in the second half and were back on level terms on 71 minutes when Ighalo scored from the penalty after the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) confirmed an Algerian defender handled the ball inside the box.
It was Ighalo’s fourth goal in the tournament, but Mahrez struck the winner for Algeria on the dot of the four minutes added time for stoppages..
Algeria, will now face Senegal in the AFCON 2019 final on Saturday while Nigeria and Tunisia will play for the Bronze medal on Wednesday.
By Adeboye Amosu in Cairo