Algeria won Africa Cup of Nations for the second time as a freak early goal secured a 1-0 win against Senegal in the final in Cairo.
Baghdad Bounedjah’s deflected strike in the second minute of the game curved off Salif Sane and looped over goalkeeper Alfred Gomes to kiss the net behind the goal giving the Fennecs their second continental title, their first since 1990. .
Senegal, who have never won the African Cup of Nations, were awarded a penalty for handball in the second half (62nd minute) but it was overturned after a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review.
Algeria closed out the rest of the game to win their first title since 1990, as Senegal’s players collapsed on the pitch in tears at the final whistle.
The decisive moment for Senegal was the reversal of the decision to award a penalty on the hour mark.
Ismaila Sarr’s cross was blasted straight at Adlene Guedioura’s arm, referee Neant Alioum pointed to the spot, but, just as the Senegal players started celebrating the decision, he quickly indicated that a VAR review was under way.
After watching the replays on the pitch-side monitor, which clearly showed Guedioura’s arm being by his side, Alioum reversed the decision.
Although the decision was correct, the result was harsh on Senegal, with Algeria managing only one shot on goal.
Algeria were very lucky to get their first goal from a deflected shot by Bounedjah. But they made the most of their luck.
Their defence has been formidable all tournament and as much as Senegal tried to create chances, it was just so difficult for them.
The Teranga Lions raised their level after half-time and had a great chance that was missed by Niang, one of two players Algeria were giving very close attention – the other, of course, being Mane.
One goal was enough for Algeria to win a well deserved tournament even though they weren’t their best in the final. Senegal were so close this time but they needed luck and more clinical finishing – and they found neither.