NIGERIA’S Super Eagles have been knocked out of the ongoing African Cup of Nations by Algeria’s Desert Foxes after succumbing to an injury time goal from Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez in the semi finals to lose the game 1-2.
In a pulsating game of two halves that saw the Algerians dominate the first half but Nigeria take charge after the restart, the Eagles failed to really stamp their authority on the game. On the balance of play, however, the Algerians just about deserved to win the match as they had greater possession and created the better chances.
At the outset, the Algerians dominated play, pressing the Eagles back into their half and due to c combination of casual defending and their aggressive pressing, nearly took the opening early on. In the 28th minute, Algeria nearly took the lead after Kenneth Omeruo lost concentration allowing Baghdad Bounedjah to steal the ball but Daniel Akpeyi in goal for Nigeria made a save with the right hand to save Nigeria’s blushes.
Eventually, the Algerian pressure paid off in the 39th minute after William Troost-Ekong deflected Mahrez’s cross into the back off Nigeria’s net, leaving Akpeyi stranded. After going behind, the Eagles rallied and began applying some pressure on the Algerians but never really trouble them enough.
At the restart, the Eagles resumed from where they left off, with Alex Iwobi creating panic in the Algerian defence buy disciplined defending in numbers kept Nigeria from scoring. Despite enjoying the lion share of possession, the Eagles were shut out in the final third but in the 67th minute they finally got a breakthrough.
A shot on target from Oghene Etebo was going wide of goal by Algerian defender Aissa Mandi got in the way. Initially the referee waved play on but the video assistant referee (Var) brought the matter to his attention and a check revealed that the ball had hit Mandi on the arm, so a penalty was given and the player shown a yellow card.
Odion Ighalo stepped forward to take the spot kick and made no mistake, sending the Algerian goalkeeper the wrong way for the equaliser. After that it remained a ding dong affair with both sides having chances and with the game drifting into extra time, Algeria got a lifeline in the fourth minute of extra time.
Midfielder Wilfred Ndidi committed a soul on the edge of the area and the referee awarded Algeria a freekick. With virtually the last kick of the game, Mahrez curled the freekick beyond Akpeyi to send his side into Friday’s final where they will meet Senegal.
On Thursday, Nigeria will meet Tunisia in the third place play-off. In today’s other semi final, Senegal beat Tunisia 1-0 to make both the final and the third place play-off North Africa vs West Africa clashes.