CAIRO: Algeria won the Africa Cup of Nations for only the second time in their history after a lucky early goal saw them beat Senegal 1-0 in the final in Cairo.
It took Algeria just two minutes to take the lead with a lucky deflection from Baghdad Bounedjah’s strike finding the back of the net.
Djamel Belmadi’s side then managed to hold off Senegal – looking to win the competition for the first time – for the remainder of the 90 minutes to add to their 1990 success on home soil.
Algeria took a remarkable early lead when Bounedjah ran in from the left and hit a shot which struck Salif Sane’s outstretched leg and looped high over goalkeeper Amigo Gomes before dropping into the goal.
In an unsavoury moment which slightly marred the occasion, someone from the crowd directed a laser towards Senegal’s Henri Saivet as the midfielder attempted to take a free-kick
Saivet also had his side’s best chance of the first half in the 29th minute direct from a free-kick, but his 30-yard effort was an easy save for goalkeeper Rais M’Bolhi.
After dominating most of the possession in the opening period, Senegal came close to an equaliser after the ball fell to M’Baye Niang who turned and struck a shot towards the top corner from 30 yards out, but it went just wide.
In the second half, Liverpool star Sadio Mane had his first opportunity of the match and lost a boot in the process as he turned past a defender, but his shot was blocked.
In a clash of few clear-cut chances, Senegal looked to have been presented with a perfect chance to draw level in the 60th minute when they were awarded a penalty after a cross hit Adlene Guedioura’s arm which was by the midfielder’s side. However, the referee overturned the decision following a VAR review.
Algeria had their first good opening of the second half when Youcef Belaili’s cross was deflected and flew towards goal but the ball landed on the roof of the net.
Another chance for Senegal came in the 83rd minute, after a defended free-kick fell to Ismaila Sarr who let the ball bounce before firing a shot over the bar.
Substitute Krepin Diatta wasted one of his side’s last opportunities to equalise when he decided to shoot instead of crossing for the numbers in green gathered in the box, and his effort went high over the bar.
With 30 seconds of stoppage time remaining, Senegal’s Sane stood up to take a free-kick, but his effort went straight into the wall and Algeria’s celebrations were able to begin.
2nd rnd — Morocco 1, Benin 1 (1-4 pens aet); Uganda 0, Senegal 1; Nigeria 3, Cameroon 2; Egypt 0, S Africa 1; Madagascar 2, DR Congo 2 (4-2 pens, aet); Algeria 3, Guinea 0; Mali 0, Ivory Coast 1; Ghana 1, Tunisia 1 (4-5 pens,aet).
Quarter-finals:Ivory Coast 1, Algeria 1 (3-4 pens, aet); Madagascar 0, Tunisia 3; Senegal 1, Benin 0; Nigeria 2, South Africa 1.
Semi-finals: Senegal 1, Tunisia 0 aet; Algeria 2, Nigeria 1.
Third place play-off: Tunisia 0, Nigeria 1.
Final: Senegal 0, Algeria 1.