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AFCON 2019: Algeria Crowned Champions Of Africa After Beating Senegal In Final

A lone, freak goal was enough for Algeria to win the Africa Cup of Nations for the second time in their history, thanks to Baghdad Bounedjah’s early deflected goal two minutes in to the final game against Senegal.

Not to be outdone, the Lions of Teranga though left reeling with the freak shot didn’t easily give up with plenty of drama on the pitch ensuring an absolute thriller of a match for the fans.

Midway through the second half, it looked as though Senegal had been handed a lifeline when referee Alioum Alioum awarded a penalty for handball.
However, after being advised by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) to review the incident on the pitch side monitor, Alioum overturned his original decision.
It was yet more heartbreak for Senegal, which is still yet to win the greatest prize in African football.
But it will be the manner of this defeat that will hurt the most. Algeria’s goal came from its one and only shot of the game and few would argue that Senegal was the better side for the other 88 minutes of the match.
Bounedjah’s shot came off a deflection on Salif Sane which then looped over goalkeeper Alfred Gomis and fell safely in to the net. A bewildered Badou Ndiaye extended his arms in the direction of his goalkeeper Alfred Gomis, inquiring as to why he made no attempt to get back and prevent the goal.

For Senegal, who lost to Algeria by the same scoreline in the group stage in 1990, the long wait for a first continental crown goes on as coach Aliou Cisse, the captain of the 2002 runners-up, again fell short in the final.

It was the first title-decider to feature two African coaches since 1998, with Algeria boss Djamel Belmadi completing a whirlwind 12 months at the helm after inheriting a side that failed to make it out of the group stage two years ago.

With defensive rock Kalidou Koulibaly suspended for Senegal, Salif Sane deputised at the back and Ismaila Sarr was recalled in attack, while Belmadi kept faith in the same side that overcame Nigeria with an injury-time free-kick from Riyad Mahrez.

For the Algerian fans, it was the perfect ending to their AFCON campaign. The Algerian government had reportedly subsidized more than 5,000 plane tickets for Algeria supporters to make the four-hour flight to the Egyptian capital.

This final had been billed as Mané vs. Mahrez but so far the Premier League duo had been upstaged by their less illustrious teammates.

Algeria midfielder Ismael Bennacer was awarded the best player, while, Rais M’Bolhi was also named the tournament’s best keeper.

Meanwhile, Nigeria striker Odion Ighalo won the Golden Boot award with a tally of 5 goals. He beat off competition from Sadio Mane of Senegal, Riyad Mahrez and Adam Ounas of Algeria and Cedric Bakambu of DR Congo, who scored two goals each.

It is the best tally for a Nations Cup top scorer since Egyptian striker Mohamed “Gedo” Nagy scored five goals in 2010.

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