Algeria claimed only their second-ever continental crown with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Senegal on Friday night.
Baghdad Bounedjah’s deflected strike, inside the first two minutes, ultimately decided a game played out in an immense atmosphere at the Cairo International Stadium.
There was incident at both ends right from the off, as early nerves saw a shanked clearance inside the Algeria penalty area straight from the kick-off. However, the telling contribution would come at the other end.
A slipped ball into the left-hand channel found Bounedjah, who rolled his marker and bore down on goal. His speculative effort from just outside the area looped up off the outstretched leg of Salif Sane, completely wrong-footing Alfred Gomis to give Algeria the lead.
It set the pattern for the rest of the game, as Senegal came back strongly, seeking the equalizer. Striker Mbaye Niang, still seeking his first goal of the competition, saw a short on the swivel fly narrowly over the top, and the Teranga Lions felt they should have had a penalty when Mehdi Zeffane appeared to kick the bottom of Ismaila Sarr’s boot inside the area, but referee Alioum waved play on.
After the break, there was more of the same. Senegal thought they had finally found a way back into the match, as a low cross into the box came off the arm of Adlene Guedioura, causing the referee to point to the spot. However, upon consultation with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), the decision was reversed.
Niang then went close again, this time latching onto a direct pass out from the back by Lamine Gassama, but he blazed over having gone round Algeria ‘keeper Rais Mbolhi.
The best chance of the second period, however, fell to Sarr inside the area, as the ball broke to him unmarked. The Rennes man could not keep his shot down, volleying over to the relief of the Algerian defence.
Djamel Belmadi’s men would hold on for a historic victory, winning the Africa Cup of Nations title for the first time ever on foreign side.