AFCON: Senegal, Algeria storm finals

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Riyad Mahrez

By CAF

A Dylan Bronn own goal inside 10 minutes of added time saw Senegal book their first Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final slot in 17 years after beating Tunisia’s Carthage Eagles 1-0 in a drama-filled match at the June 30 Stadium in Cairo on Sunday night.

A fully contested tie saw the two sides miss a penalty each late in the second half, eight minutes apart. Tunisia had the first after 72 minutes which Ferjani Sassi missed while Senegal had their own in the 80th minute, missed by Henri Saivet.

There was more drama in the final six minutes when initially, referee Bamlak Tessema gave Tunisia a penalty after an apparent handball, but after consulting the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), overturned the decision.

Senegal, who are yet to win any Cup of Nations title despite playing the most number of matches at the flagship African tourney can now dare dream as their tactician Aliou Cisse makes history playing in two finals as a player (2002) and now as a coach.

Senegal should have been up by at least two goals by half time. The Lions of Teranga had literally the lion’s share of possession and chances in the opening 45 with one of the three tournament top scorers Sadio Mane having the best of the evening.

In the 37th minute, the Liverpool forward dribbled past keeper Hassen Mouez off a Mbaye Niang pass, but his eventual effort went wide. Just a minute before that, Niang had a good chance when off Mane’s touch from a Youssouf Sabaly cross, his shot on the half turn skied .

Senegal players celebrate

Even before these two golden chances, Senegal had rattled the bar. In one of his many forays upfield from the left, Sabaly cut into some good shooting range but his rasping curling shot came thundering against the upright.

Tunisia didn’t create much, save for some two half chances after being forced to play on the back foot for most of the first half. Bronn had a header off a Wahbi Khazri freekick deflected and from the resultant corner, Youssef Msakni headed over.

Tunisia seemed to have picked lessons from their first half performance as they came back stronger in the second 45. Just two minutes after the restart Taha Khenissi missed one on one with the keeper chipping the ball over when he raced to a ball looped behind the defense.

Algeria beats Nigeria

A last gasp goal from star Riyad Mahrez led Algeria to reach the 2019 Total Africa Cup of Nations final match after defeating Nigeria 2-1 at Cairo International Stadium on Sunday night.

They will face their group opponents Senegal in the grand final next Friday (19 July 2019) at the same venue with the Holy Grail of African football at stake.

Mahrez cross led to William Troost-Ekong putting the ball into his own net after 40 minutes, before VAR gave Nigeria a penalty from which Odion Ighalo found the equalizer at the 70th minute.

But Mahrez scored a superb freekick to hand Les Fennecs a place in the final four minutes into stoppage time amidst wild celebrations from Algerian supporters.

Algerians after beating Nigeria

Possession swung between both sides in the first minutes with players looking cautious. The game’s first real chance came at the quarter hour mark from a free kick that Isamil Bennacer sent to Rami Bensabaini, but the defender’s header went just wide.

With possession going towards Les Fennecs side, Baghdad Bounedjah was about to give Algeria the lead after 29 minutes. Youcef Belaili pass found the striker who rounded his marker, but his shot went straight to Nigeria’s goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi hands.

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 halftime.

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