By Simon Abutu
Baghdad Bounedjah’s second minute strike was enough for Algeria to seal a 1-0 victory over Senegal in the AFCON final.
Bounedjah’s shot flicked off Salif Sane’s leg before looping into the net with Senegal goalkeeper Alfred Gomis left stranded.
Senegal enjoyed more possession in the game with 62.2% and some superb second half chances, they also had a penalty cancelled after VAR review.
Algeria had a perfect start in Cairo as they took the lead within 2minute of the game. Ismael Bennacer sliced the ball down the wing for Bounedjah who did well and got ahead of Cheikhou Kouyate to stride towards the edge of the area. He hit a powerful shot ghat deflected off the outstretched leg of Sane and looped into the net.
Senegal’s best chance in first half came in the 38th minute when M’Baye Niang tried to curl a volley into the far corner but it just fizzed past the post.
Sadio Mane came close in the 58th minute when Youssouf Sabaly touched the ball into his path and he wiggled into space in the area before trying to shot but Algeria defender Djamel Benlamri was there to block his effort.
Senegal thought they had a lifeline of a penalty as Ismaila Sarr’s cross hit the arm of Adlene Guedioura with his arm very close to his body. The referee initially pointed to the spot but the decision was reviewed with VAR and was correctly reversed.
Senegal had series of late chances as Niang rounded the Algerian goalkeeper only to fire over the post. Sabaly and Sarr also tried their luck but all went out wide.
Ultimately, Algeria did well to keep their head despite Senegal’s pressure as they claimed their first AFCON title since 1990.