AFCON 2019: Why Eagles lost semi-finals tie to Algeria

A last-gasp goal from Riyad Mahrez helped Algeria qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final match after defeating Nigeria 2-1 at Cairo International Stadium on Sunday night.

They will face their group opponents Senegal in the final match on Friday at the same venue.

Mahrez cross led to William Troost-Ekong putting the ball into his own net after 40 minutes, before VAR gave Nigeria a penalty kick which Odion Ighalo scored in the 72nd minute.

But Mahrez scored a superb free-kick to hand Les Fennecs a place in the final four minutes into stoppage time.

Possession swung between both sides in the opening minutes, with the players looking to be cautious.

The game’s first real chance came at the quarter hour mark from a free-kick which Bennacer sent to Rami Bensabaini, but the defender’s header went just wide.

With possession going towards Les Fennecs side, Baghdad Bounedjah was almost giving Algeria the lead after 29 minutes.

Youcef Belaili pass found the striker who rounded his marker, but his shot went straight into the hands of Nigeria’s goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi.

The first real chance for the Super Eagles came after 38 minutes when Alex Iwobi found Odion Ighalo, but the striker’s shot went wide.

Les Fennecs broke the deadlock five minutes from the break.

Riyad Mahrez sent a calling cross that was deflected from Nigeria’s defender William Troost-Ekong to his own net giving Algeria a deserved lead into the half-time.

Nigeria started the second half on attacking note trying to find the equaliser, but found a resolute Algerian defence that stopped all their attempts.

Alex Iwobi tried from distance on the hour mark but missed the target widely.

Algeria tried depending on the counter attack, but could not make a difference.

And, after 72 minutes, the game took a turnaround.

Video Assistant Referee (VAR) intervened to give Nigeria a penalty kick for a handball on Aissa Mandi.

Ighalo made no mistake from the penalty kick spot to tie the game at 1-1.

Algeria players looked fatigued and tried to keep their opponents at bay, relying on Mahrez and Belaili’s speed in counter-attacks.

Ismail Bennacer could have given Algeria the lead two minutes into stoppage time but his shot kissed the crossbar.

And it was Mahrez who won the match for Les Fennecs four minutes after the full-time mark when his free-kick was perfectly placed over the wall and into the net.

It led Les Fennecs to the final for the second time in their history and the first since 1990. (NAN)