Freak goal earns Algeria first AFCON title in 29 years
Africa Cup of Nations final – Cairo International Stadium – Senegal 0 Algeria 1 (Bounedjah 2’)
Algeria lifted their first Africa Cup of Nations title since 1990 thanks to a bizarre goal in the second minute of a narrow 1-0 victory over Senegal.
After the break, Senegal thought they had a route back into the match when Adlene Guedioura was deemed to have handled the ball inside his own area, but VAR intervened, with the referee going on to reverse his decision after consulting the pitchside monitor.
M'Baye Niang then failed to find the target from a narrow angle after rounding Rais M'bolhi inside the penalty area as Senegal dominated without carving out many clear-cut openings.
The match had been billed as a showdown between Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez and Liverpool's Sadio Mane, but neither player was able to rise to the occasion as Algeria held on to lift the trophy for only the second time in their history.
Algeria win ugly as the main men fail to shine. Djamel Belmadi's team reached their third-ever Afcon final playing some sparkling attacking football - but they never came close to repeating it in this final. Indeed, Senegal posed most of the questions after falling behind so early, but their lack of creativity in the final third once again proved an Achilles heel as Mane and co failed to unlock the Algeria rearguard. The Liverpool man tried to prompt a revival but couldn't get on the ball enough to lead his team back on track. Instead, the trophy goes to Mahrez and his team-mates, with the Man City forward offering more with his defensive work than in the attacking areas he has made his name in.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Djamel Benlamri (Algeria). Rock-solid at the back as he kept Mane and co quiet for large spells despite Senegal's dominance of possession. Suffered a nasty cut to the head after an unfortunate aerial clash with the Liverpool man, but came back on patched up to help his country over the line.
2' - GOAL! Senegal 0-1 Algeria. Baghdad Bounedjah spins his man on the left, cuts inside and fires in a 25-yard shot that loops off Salif Sané and drops into the far corner. That's a very unfortunate deflection for Senegal.
38' - SENEGAL CHANCE! M'Baye Niang allows a pass from the right roll across his body before letting fly with a stunning 25-yard effort that curves inches over the top.
61' - SENEGAL PENALTY OVERTURNED BY VAR! The referee initially awarded a penalty for hand ball against Adlene Guedioura. However, after the intervention of VAR he has reversed his decision. Drama - but probably the right call as his hands were by his side as he defended the right-wing cross.
66' - SENEGAL CHANCE! Niang races onto a raking through pass, takes it beyond the keeper but then fails to find the target from a narrowing angle on the right.
82' - SENEGAL CHANCE! Algeria fail to deal with a cross from the left, but Sarr flashes a 15-yard volley over the bar.
Algeria won their second Afcon title and their first for 29 years. Senegal's wait for a maiden success goes on.