Odion Ighalo scored twice and created Alex Iwobi’s winning goal as Nigeria eliminated defending Africa Cup of Nations champions Cameroon after a thrilling 3-2 victory in Alexandria on Saturday. China-based forward Ighalo bundled home a scrappy opener but Clarence Seedorf’s Cameroon hit back through Stephane Bahoken and Clinton Njie with two quick-fire goals before half-time.
Nigeria drew level as Ighalo volleyed in his second just past the hour and he then turned provider to play in Iwobi to steer home three minutes later and set up an unexpected quarter-final clash with South Africa, who stunned hosts and favourites Egypt 1-0 in Cairo.
“It was a good win and it was a difficult game. Even when they scored to make it 2-1 we still believed we could score and come back,” said Ighalo, as coach Gernot Rohr praised the resilience of the Super Eagles.
“I think we dominated in the beginning and we scored a good goal. At the end of the first half there was a lack of concentration and Cameroon took advantage,” Rohr said. “But my young team always continues fighting and never gives up.”
Seedorf was frustrated by Cameroon’s slow start although he could not fault the effort of his players. “I feel disappointment obviously and also some anger because I thought we were a little bit tense in a few moments, but I have to appreciate the players have done everything they could today,” he said. “It was not enough.”
Seedorf’s penchant for change has seen the former Dutch star heavily rotate his side in Egypt, with Karl Toko Ekambi dropping to the bench here and 2017 player of the tournament Christian Bassogog recalled along with Njie in a bid to breathe life into a faltering attack.
Rohr had paid the price for resting key players in the shock 2-0 loss to Madagascar, with Wilfred Ndidi, Kenneth Omeruo and Alex Iwobi all returning to the starting line-up for this last-16 encounter.
Momentum swings back and forth
Nigeria eliminated Cameroon in the first knockout round the last time they were reigning champions in 2004, and their bid to repeat history looked on when Ighalo nudged Nigeria ahead after 19 minutes.
Moments after Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui powered a header over at the other end, Peter Etebo hooked a deep cross to the far post where it was driven back across goal by Omeruo and Ighalo stabbed home via a huge deflection that wrong-footed goalkeeper Andre Onana.
It was the first time Cameroon had conceded in Egypt, but after scoring just twice in the group stage the Indomitable Lions matched that output in three frenzied minutes before half-time. Bahoken pulled Cameroon level on 41 minutes when he ghosted in behind Omeruo to connect with a terrific whipped cross from Bassogog, and Njie soon fired them in front after outpacing Ola Aina to a flick-on, holding his nerve and balance to slip beyond Daniel Akpeyi.
Njie nearly got the better of Akpeyi again early in the second half, Nigeria ‘keeper superbly clawing the ball out from just inside his post after the Marseille winger’s cutback was deflected towards goal. Rohr introduced Samuel Chukwueze with an hour gone but it was Ighalo, the top scorer in qualifying, who came to the rescue once more with a thumping finish after Ahmed Musa chested a cross into his path.
Ighalo joined Senegal star Sadio Mane on a tournament-leading three goals and he played a key role in Iwobi’s decisive strike on 66 minutes, threading the ball through to the Arsenal winger to side-foot past Onana. Ngadeu-Ngadjui toed wide at a corner but Cameroon struggled to truly threaten Nigeria in the closing stages with Ighalo denied a hat-trick late on as Onana plunged low to his right to knock away the forward’s header.
French police arrest 282 in riotous celebrations after Algeria football win
Some of the arrests were also linked to unrest surrounding events marking France’s national day celebrations on Sunday
A total of 282 people were arrested in France after unrest following the Algerian football team’s qualification for the final of the Africa Cup of Nations, the interior ministry said Monday.
Riotous celebrations erupted around the country after Algeria beat Nigeria 2-1 in the semi-final. The arrests were made nationwide on Sunday evening, the ministry said.
Some of the arrests were also linked to unrest surrounding events marking France’s national day celebrations on Sunday.
Unruly scenes erupted in Paris, Marseille, and Lyon. Fifty people were arrested in the French capital and there were incidents between football fans and police on the Champs-Elysees avenue.
Dozens of cars were torched overnight in the eastern city of Lyon.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner on Monday congratulated police and firemen for their “speedy reaction and professionalism which contained the violence and to the perpetrators” being apprehended.
Of those arrested, 249 people were in custody.
Last Thursday, when Algeria defeated Ivory Coast to reach the semi-finals, fans went on the rampage in central Paris, looting shops.
On the same day in the southern city of Montpellier, an Algerian football supporter celebrating his team’s win lost control of his car at high speed and ran into a family, killing a woman and seriously injuring her baby.
Paris and Marseille are home to large minority communities of Algerian origin. Football celebrations, with supporters brandishing large national flags, have, on occasion, been a source of tensions.
Algeria defeat Nigeria to set up Senegal rematch for AFCON final
Algeria will take on Sadio Mane’s Senegal for the title on July 19, in a repeat of a group stage clash they won 1-0
Riyad Mahrez rifled in a stoppage-time free-kick to earn Algeria a dramatic 2-1 victory over three-time champions Nigeria on Sunday and set up a rematch with Senegal in the Africa Cup of Nations final.
Algeria led through a first-half own goal by William Troost-Ekong before Nigeria equalised with an Odion Ighalo penalty awarded after a VAR review.
However, as extra time looked necessary, Mahrez blasted in from 20 yards with the last kick of the match to send the Desert Foxes through to their first final since lifting the trophy for the only time in 1990.
Algeria will take on Sadio Mane’s Senegal for the title on July 19, in a repeat of a group stage clash they won 1-0.
“We are very happy to be in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations because it is something very special,” said Mahrez.
“It was our goal to do it for the people and for our families. We know they are behind us all the way. It’s my most important goal for the national dream. Yes, it’s my dream to win it and hopefully we will be able to.”
An injury to Youcef Atal, who fractured his collarbone during the quarter-final win over Ivory Coast on penalties, forced Djamel Belmadi to start Mehdi Zeffane at right-back, while Nigeria fielded the same team that overcame South Africa here.
Algeria supporters filled most of the lower tier at one end of the ground, dwarfing a small section of Nigeria fans, but there were large swathes of empty seats at the 75,000-capacity Cairo International Stadium.
Mahrez leads by example –
Leading scorers in the tournament and considered the most impressive side, Algeria quickly asserted themselves as Ramy Bensebaini headed narrowly over before a wicked Youcef Belaili cross nearly lead to a goal for Baghdad Bounedjah.
Hesitant defending from Kenneth Omeruo just outside his own area then allowed Bounedjah to nip in, but the Al-Sadd striker could only shoot tamely at Daniel Akpeyi.
Seemingly having moved on from the penalty miss that reduced him to tears in the last round, Bounedjah was consistently proving a nuisance to a nervy Nigeria backline with Jamilu Collins relieved to see a toed clearance land on the roof of the net.
Nigeria countered intermittently as Ighalo dragged wide after Mahrez was caught in possession, but the Manchester City winger promptly atoned as Algeria made the breakthrough on 40 minutes.
After gathering the ball on the right Mahrez danced past Collins before sending over a cross that flicked off the left-back and struck a helpless Troost-Ekong in the midriff before tricking over the line.
Super Eagles boss, Gernot Rohr has praised his side’s resilience, particularly the way they bounced back from a shock loss to Madagascar to eliminate defending champions Cameroon, and Nigeria again hit back with the aid of VAR.
Gambian referee Bakary Gassama initially dismissed Nigerian penalty appeals when a Peter Etebo shot struck the arm of Aissa Mandi but reserved that decision, with Ighalo sending Rais Mbohli the wrong way from the spot for his competition-best fourth goal.
Sofiane Feghouli blazed over late on and extra time beckoned after Ismael Bennacer rattled the bar in stoppage time, but Mahrez won it at the death with a thunderous strike into the top corner.
Own goal helps Senegal defeat Tunisia to reach AFCON final
Senegal will miss star defender Kalidou Koulibaly for the final against Algeria after he was yellow-carded
Senegal reached the Africa Cup of Nations final for the second time with a Dylan Bronn own goal giving them a 1-0 win over Tunisia on Sunday in a tense last-four clash in Cairo.
With 11 minutes gone in extra time, goalkeeper Mouez Hassen pushed a free-kick against the head of Bronn and the ball went backwards into the net.
Tunisia thought they would have a chance to equalise when Idrissa Gueye handled in the box, but the Ethiopian referee reversed his original decision to award a penalty after watching replays at the VAR monitor.
Both teams missed penalties in regular time with Ferjani Sassi the Tunisian culprit before Henri Saivet failed for the Senegalese.
Liverpool star, Sadio Mane began the tournament as the first-choice Senegal penalty taker but, after missing two, opted out before the quarter-finals.
Senegal will miss star defender Kalidou Koulibaly for the final against Algeria after he was yellow-carded.
It was the second caution of the knockout phase for the Napoli centre-back and triggered an automatic one-match suspension.
Senegal last reached the title decider 17 years ago, when current coach Aliou Cisse captained a team beaten on penalties by Cameroon in Mali.
“I congratulate (Tunisia and former Senegal coach) Alain Giresse because he left me a good group. He did a good job in Senegal,” said Cisse.
“The match was incredible because of the uncertainty — it will remain in the annals of African football.”
French football legend Giresse said: “We were equal to Senegal and had opportunities, but did not know how to transform them.
“I am the number one supporter of Aliou Cisse. He will become a coach who will surpass what he achieved as a player. He will win the Cup of Nations.”
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