Riyad Mahrez’s stunning 95th-minute free-kick sent Algeria into their first Africa Cup of Nations final in 29 years as Nigeria were this time the victims of late drama.
Algeria's forward Riyad Mahrez (R) scores from a free-kick during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Semi-final football match between Algeria and Nigeria at the Cairo International stadium in Cairo on July 14, 2019
Image credit: Getty Images
After an own goal sent Senegal into the final at Tunisia’s expense, the same misfortune struck Nigeria in Sunday’s second semi-final when William Troost-Ekong inadvertently chested the ball into his own net.
However, it did not prove to be the decisive goal, as Odion Ighalo’s penalty – awarded after a lengthy VAR decision – levelled proceedings with 20 minutes to go.
Nigeria had reached the last four thanks to a last-minute winner, but this time their hearts were broken when Mahrez curled a free-kick into the top corner with virtually the last kick of the game.
Algeria’s bid for a first AFCON title since 1990 will take place on Friday, as they face Senegal live on Eurosport and the Eurosport Player.
Can Algeria defend their way to glory? Algeria have conceded just two goals all tournament. Both have come in the knockout stages but still, they look razor sharp in defence, and when you have players like Mahrez up the other end, they will be confident they have the right blend to see off Senegal too.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Riyad Mahrez – It was his cross that led to Algeria’s opening goal, but he gets the nod simply for his match-winning exploits at the death.
Nigeria: Akpeyi 5, Ekong 5, Omeruo 5, Awaziem 5, Collins 6, Ndidi 5, Musa 6, Etebo 6, Chukwueze 5, Iwobi 5, Ighalo 6. Subs: Henry 6.
Algeria: Mbolhi 6, Zeffane 6, Bensebaini 7, Mandi 6, Benlamri 6, Guedioura 7, Feghouli 7, Bennacer 7, Mahrez 7, Belaili 7, Bounedjah 6.
16’ - OVER! It should be 1-0. Bennacer's cross is met by Bensebaini but he sends his free header a whisker over the bar.
30’ - BIG SAVE! Huge let-off for Omeruo as the ball bounces past him and puts Bounedjah through on goal, but the Algeria striker's effort is too close to Akpeyi, who makes a vital stop.
40’ - OWN GOAL! ALGERIA LEAD! The man who put Nigeria into the semi-final has now scored an own goal! It's Mahrez with some trickery down the right, his cross deflects off Collins and then cannons off the chest of Troost-Ekong into his own goal... Ouch.
69’ - The referee is heading to the pitchside monitor to check for a possible handball. Penalty to Nigeria? Let's find out...
73’ – NIGERIA ARE LEVEL! After the referee deems Mandi to have handballed inside the box, Ighalo sends Mbolhi the wrong way to equalise.
90+3’ - OFF THE BAR! So close to a stunning winner.... but Bennacer's effort hits the bar and Nigeria live to fight another 30 minutes, it would seem.
90+5’ Free-kick to Algeria some 20 yards out just moments after Mahrez tried to weave his way through the Nigeria defence.
It's all down to this. A Mahrez (you would imagine) free-kick..........
GOAAAAAAAALLLLLLL!!!!!! MAHREZ FIRES ALGERIA INTO THE FINAL!!!!!!
What a moment. What a free-kick. Mahrez curls his free-kick past Akpeyi. It's the goalkeeper's side... but it's too powerful!
Algeria are into their third final and first since winning in 1990.