Mahrez magic books final against Senegal

Senegal will play Algeria in Friday's Africa Cup of Nations final after Riyad Mahrez scored a free-kick in the 95th minute.

Algeria players celebrate after making the AFCON final.

Algeria players celebrate after making the AFCON final.   -  Twitter:@CAF_Online

Riyad Mahrez scored a sensational free-kick in the 95th minute as Algeria beat Nigeria 2-1 to seal its place in the Africa Cup of Nations final.

Algeria led thanks to William Troost-Ekong's own goal but Nigeria hit back through Odion Ighalo's penalty, awarded following a VAR check.

Extra time was looming until Algeria, which has not been to the final since winning the tournament on home soil in 1990, won a free-kick on the edge of the box.

And Mahrez, star man for the Desert Foxes, bent the ball around the wall to beat Nigeria goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi and seal his country a place against Senegal in Friday's final.

Baghdad Bounedjah should have scored an early opener in Cairo but somehow bundled wide of the post from close range, then Ramy Bensebaini wasted a free header in the Nigeria box.

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Bounedjah, without a goal since Algeria's first AFCON game, fluffed his lines again in the 29th minute, hustling Kenneth Omeruo out of possession but firing straight at Akpeyi.

Ighalo slotted Alex Iwobi's pass just wide and Algeria then opened the scoring just before half-time, Mahrez's cross deflecting off left-back Jamilu Collins before bouncing in off the helpless Troost-Ekong.

Nigeria showed a huge improvement after the break but it needed a slice of luck to equalise in the 72nd minute.

Aissa Mandi blocked a long-range Peter Etebo drive with his arm, referee Bakary Gassama awarding a penalty after consulting VAR, with Ighalo coolly converting despite a long delay.

Algeria midfielder Ismael Bennacer clipped the crossbar with a 25-yard drive but Mahrez then brilliantly settled matters after Wilfred Ndidi gave away a free-kick in a perfect position.

ALSO READ: Senegal 1 Tunisia 0 (after extra time): Own goal the difference as Cisse's men reach AFCON final

Senegal, which beat Tunisia 1-0 in extra time thanks to an own goal, awaits in Friday's final.

Key Opta Facts

- Algeria will play in its third AFCON final, after losing 3-0 to Nigeria in 1980 and beating the same opponent 1-0 in 1990. 
- Nigeria has been eliminated in five of its last six sem-finals at the AFCON, after progressing in six of its previous seven.
- Ighalo is the top scorer at this AFCON with four goals. He has been involved in five of Nigeria’s eight goals in this edition (4 goals, 1 assist).

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