Africa Cup of Nations Semi-Final
Teams: Algeria 2-1 Nigeria
Date: 14 July 2019
Venue: Cairo International Stadium
Algeria booked their spot in the Africa Cup of Nations final after defeating Nigeria on Sunday night, with Riyad Mahrez netting the winning with a superb free-kick.
The Desert Foxes came to the game with only one change, as right-back Mehdi Zeffane plugged the gap left by Youcef Atal, who was ruled out of the tournament due to a fractured collarbone while the Super Eagles were unchanged from their late quarter-final victory over South Africa.
Algeria almost snatched an early lead in the seventh minute after Youcef Belaili delivered a cross towards the far post but Baghdad Bounedjah could not apply the finishing touches, guiding the cross wide from close range.
Bounedjah should have found the breakthrough for the Desert Foxes in the 28th minute after Belaili sent him through with a delicate chip in between the defence, but the centre forward struck his shot straight at Daniel Akpeyi inside the box.
Djamel Belmadi’s charges increased their intensity going forward as Jamilu Collins almost netted an own goal with ten minutes remaining of the first stanza, after intercepting a through ball for Bounedjah with a toe-poked clearance that looped just over the crossbar.
The pressure from the North Africans eventually paid off with five minutes remaining of the first stanza, as Mahrez went clear on the right side of the box and delivered a telling cross that was deflected into the back of the net by Super Eagles defender William Troost-Ekong.
The West Africans were much improved in the early exchanges of the second stanza, defending as a unit but they were yet to find their rhythm going forward.
The Super Eagles were given a lifeline with 20 minutes remaining after Aissa Mandi blocked Peter Etebo’s shot with his hand just inside the box and the West Africans were awarded a penalty after the referee reviewed the incident on the Video Assistant Referee monitor. Odion Ighalo took the responsibility and converted from 12-yards out to restore parity.
Alex Iwobi almost handed Nigeria the lead in the last ten minutes with a low shot from outside the area that was saved by M’Bolhi at the bottom corner as the Super Eagles upped the tempo.
With extra-time looming, Mahrez finally snatched the winner for Algeria deep in stoppage time with a superb free-kick that left Akpeyi with no chance to seal a spot in the final, where they will now face Senegal.