AAP Soccer

Algeria take out Africa Cup of Nations

By AAP Newswire

Algeria won the African Cup of Nations for the first time in nearly three decades on Friday (Saturday AEST), beating Senegal 1-0 in the final with a deflected goal in the opening seconds by striker Baghdad Bounedjah.

Bounedjah's shot on Algeria's first attack deflected off Senegal defender Salif Sane and looped over goalkeeper Alfred Gomis at Cairo International Stadium.

The goal was timed at 79 seconds - the fastest in an African Cup final for at least 39 years - and delivered Algeria just a second African title, and their first since 1990.

Algeria players sprinted the length of the field and jumped over advertising boards to celebrate with their fans at the final whistle. Some players climbed the fences, fists pumping as the raucous Algeria fans surged toward them.

Algeria last made the final 29 years ago, when it won its sole title before this victory.

"My people have waited a long time," said Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi, a former Algeria player.

"I'm very happy even if it is difficult to express. I'm tired, it's true, and it is difficult to show my emotions, but when I rest my happiness will appear."

Senegal and Sadio Mane trudged off the field at the 75,000-seat Cairo International Stadium disappointed again. Mane, socks down round his ankles, managed to wave to a group of supporters who cheered for him as he left.

Senegal has never won the African Cup and Senegal coach Aliou Cisse had another bitter pill to swallow after missing the penalty that cost Senegal the African Cup in a shootout in its only previous appearance in the final in 2002.

"This is a different generation and Algeria won," Cisse said. "They seized an opportunity and they scored."

Senegal's desperate disappointment was exacerbated when they was awarded a penalty in the second, half and then had it taken away following a Video Assistant Referee review.

Cameroonian ref Alioum Alioum penalised Algeria's Adlane Guedioura for handball but changed his decision after consulting VAR, which is being used at the African Cup for the first time.

Still, Algeria was probably a fitting champion in Egypt having won every game, including a 1-0 win over Senegal in the group stage.

Algeria was captained by Riyad Mahrez, who added an African Cup medal to his current English Premier League title with Manchester City.

He lifted the trophy in front of the president of the African soccer confederation and FIFA president Gianni Infantino as fireworks and golden glitter exploded into the air behind him.

Mahrez had limited first team action with City but he was an integral part of Algeria's victory at the African Cup. His injury-time free kick put Algeria into the final and he ended with three goals, the same number as Mane.