Bounedjah’s strike crowns Algeria African champions
• Ighalo Emerges Top Scorer
Algeria yesterday beat Senegal 1-0 to win the 2019 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations. The Desert Foxes scored a fortuitous goal through Baghdad Bounedjah after just 79 seconds – the quickest final goal in the history of the competition – and defended stoutly to win their second AFCON title.
Senegal had a penalty overturned by VAR, which only added to the cagey atmosphere and sweltering conditions in Cairo.
Ismael Bennacer won possession down the left flank and sent Bounedjah advancing towards goal. The striker still had a lot to do but he found space 20 yards out and decided to go for goal. Despite the best efforts from Salif Sane to block the shot, it took a wicked deflection and looped over Senegal goalkeeper Alfred Gomis into the net.
The goal sparked wild celebrations on the Algeria bench as the whole team raced to the sidelines. Had they celebrated too much, too soon?
Senegal began to find their feet in the game as Mbaye Niang went close with a fierce drive from 20 yards out which cleared the crossbar by a matter of inches.
Sadio Mane was fortunate not to see red after appearing to throw an elbow into the torso of Sofiane Feghouli before a corner was about to be taken. The referee, perhaps unsighted, allowed play to continue with no intervention from VAR.
After the break, Senegal looked hungry for the equaliser and nearly got their wish. Ismaila Sarr broke down the right and drilled in a cross, which struck Adelen Guediora’s arm and the referee pointed to the spot.
But after a long delay, Cameroonian official Alioum Alioum consulted the TV screen and overturned the decision with help from VAR. Given that Guediora’s arm was by his side, it looked like the right decision.
Meanwhile, Super Eagles striker, Odion Ighalo has won the Africa Cup of Nations Golden Boot award after finishing top of the goal-scorer standings.
The China-based striker scored five goals in as many games as the Super Eagles progressed to the semi-finals before losing to the eventual winners, Algeria.
Ighalo scored a consolation from the penalty spot in the 2-1 defeat before scoring the only goal in the third place play-off victory over Tunisia.
Despite not making it through to the final in Cairo, Ighalo finished ahead of Liverpool’s Senegalese star Sadio Mane, who scored three times and registered one assist.
Manchester City winger, Riyad Mahrez, who scored a stunning last-gasp free-kick to send Algeria through to the final, was also unable to add to his three-goal haul in the tournament showpiece.