Riyad Mahrez scored a stunning free-kick in the 95th minute of their Africa Cup of Nations semi-final against Nigeria to send Algeria to their first final since 1990.
The Algeria captain was 20 yards out as he brilliantly curled his shot past the keeper. The goal in the dying minutes of the game proved to be the winner in what was a pulsating game of football. Mahrez was subsequently given the Man of the Match award for his heroics.
Riyad Mahrez was also responsible for Algeria’s first goal at the 40th minute mark, as he dribbled past the defence and produced a vicious cross which forced an owl goal by Nigeria centre-back William Troost-Ekong. The Eagles equalized in the second half through an Odion Ighalo penalty after Algeria defender Aissa Mandi handled the ball in the box.
The 2-1 victory at the Cairo International Stadium means that Algeria will now face Senegal in the final, who beat Tunisia earlier yesterday in another nail-biting encounter.
After his heroics, Riyad Mahrez took to Twitter to silence French far-right politician Julien Odoul who, on Sunday, publicly claimed that he does not want to see Algerian flags on the streets. “To prevent further violence and looting, to avoid the tide of Algerian flags, to preserve our national holiday, do not wait for #Castaner. Trust the 11 Nigerian players,” he tweeted.
Mahrez replied by saying, “The free kick was for you. We are together.” He also commented “Football > hate. Good night” on the politician’s tweet in order to teach the man a much-needed lesson.
Algerian supporters rampaged Paris, Marseille and other major French cities following the memorable last-ditch victory. The capital is home to some of the largest minority communities of Algerian origin and football celebrations, including supporters brandishing large national flags, have become a common spectacle in recent times.
Speaking in his post-match interview, the Manchester City man previewed the final on Friday. “We are very happy because to be in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations is something unbelievable. I think we have been very good in this tournament. We scored 12 goals and conceded two, that is the source of our confidence.
“We are looking forward to the final against Senegal. We played them in the group stage and we are expecting another tough game.”