Africa Cup of Nations 2019: 3 reasons why Algeria beat Nigeria 2-1
- Riyad Mahrez scored a stunning free-kick in injury time to take Algeria into the final of the Africa Cup of Nations
One of the most exciting clashes of this year's edition of the Africa Cup of Nations ended with the Desert Foxes of Algeria beating the Super Eagles of Nigeria in a thrilling encounter that ended 2-1.
Algeria entered today's game on the back of amazing form they picked up in the group stage where they won all their matches. That form has continued through the knock-out stages, where they have seen off Guinea and Ivory Coast.
Nigeria, on the other hand, had a poor run in the group stage where they were subject to a shock 2-0 loss against Madagascar. However, they had better luck in the knockout stages, and were looking to win their fourth AFCON title - before Algeria did the honours of sending them out.
The match started with a few scuffles - but nothing of note - as both teams tried to find their rhythm and get a feel of the game. With a number of long balls kicked back and forth the pitch, Algeria had the first real chance of the game as Nigeria goalkeeper Akpeyi mishandled the ball and put it in the path of Baghdad Bounedjah who failed to make much of it.
While Nigeria did have a number of opportunities from set-pieces to put themselves in front, Algeria had all the clear-cut chances. The Desert Foxes were hard to mark and difficult to keep out of the final third.
Finally, in the 40th minute, the first goal entered. Riyad Mahrez received a lovely pass, flew past Nigerian left-back Collins, and crossed the ball. The ball deflected off Collins' foot, hitting Troost-Ekong's stomach, and entering the back of the net.
Entering the break, Algeria was leading 1-0. To be honest, based on their number of chances, it wouldn't have been shocking if they were leading by two or three goals by half-time.
The Super Eagles began the second half with more decisiveness and seriousness. They were creating chances every now and then, rushing on the counter, hitting shots at goal, and winning set-pieces. The Algerians held down the forte hard, but Nigeria's stroke of luck came when Etebo's shot hit Aissa Mandi on the hand in the box.
After taking nearly four minutes to ensure it was a penalty, the referee booked Mandi, and handed the spot-kick to Nigeria. Odion Ighalo was the man to take it. Sending the keeper in the other direction, he placed the penalty to put Nigeria on level terms with Algeria, 72 minutes in.
Both teams continued, throwing caution to the wind. Lesser chances were being created in open play,.with both sides receiving fouls and free kicks in dangerous areas. An amazing chance came for Algeria in the 92nd minute, with Bennacer blasting a shot past the goalkeeper but hitting the crossbar.
A final chance in injury time came for Algeria again as Mahrez got set to take a dangerous 20-yard freekick just outside the centre of the box. With literally no time left, Mahrez curled sensational winner into the top corner of the goal, pushing the Algerians into the finals and sending Nigeria home.
We take a look at three reasons why Algeria beat Nigeria 2-1.
#3 Nigeria was very poor in defence
The final scoreline does not define the match. Nigeria were outplayed by the Algerians who could have won the game with more than three goals.
Fumbling from goalkeeper Akpeyi almost gave Algeria an early lead, but that was only the beginning of the Super Eagles' problems. Kenneth Omeruo was unable to intercept an over-the-top pass that Bounedjah hit straight at the keeper. Nigeria left-back Collins nearly caused an own-goal as a flick off his foot took the ball past Akpeyi and went just over Nigeria's crossbar. Another Collins deflection sent the ball into the path of Troost-Ekong's stomach that directed it to the back of the net.
The entire Nigerian team could only make seven interceptions as the Algerians played around them over and over again.