Algeria and Manchester City forward Riyad Mahrez converted an incredible free kick in stoppage time to give Algeria a 2-1 win over Nigeria in a fiercely contested Africa Cup of Nations semi-final clash in a charged atmosphere at the Cairo International stadium on Sunday.
Mahrez stepped up to prove his worth as captain of the side with a left footed free kick shot curled into the far right top corner, beating goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi to send the Desert Warriors to their first Cup of Nations final since 1990 – when they beat same Nigeria 1-0 to win their only AFCON trophy till date then as hosts.
Algeria took the lead in the 40th minute out of intense pressing which forced Nigeria’s centre back William Troost-Ekong to inevitably send a Mahrez cross to the 18 yard box into his own net. Nigeria leveled in the second half when a hand ball from Algeria’s Aissa Mandi gifted the Super Eagles a penalty after a VAR review, which was nicely converted by Odion Ighalo who sent Rais M’bolhi the wrong way in the 72nd minute to take his tally to four goals in the tournament to make him top scorer of the tournament before the final.
The two teams produced an interesting game to push the game to the full 90 minutes when the game seemed to inter into extra time before a consistent pressure from Algeria saw Nigeria concede late free kick inches away from the box and the ever reliable Mahrez made no mistake when he stepped up, took up the challenge to strike a sensational 90+5 minute winner.
Algeria face Senegal in the final on Friday after the Teranga Lions beat Tunisia 1-0 in extra time reach the final for the first time in 17 years. Nigeria will battle Tunisia for the third place spot on Wednesday.