Algeria dramatically won their first-ever FIFA Arab Cup thanks to a sublime extra-time goal from substitute Amir Sayoud and a late tap in from Yacine Brahimi to beat local rivals Tunisia on Saturday evening. It was a feisty and engaging first half at Al Bayt stadium.
Algeria was the first to carve out a chance of note as Baghdad Bounedjah header was gathered by Tunisia keeper Mouez Hassen.
In a half which was characterized by niggly fouls and constant breaks in play, Algerian wing-back Ilyes Cheti clipped Tunisian midfielder Hanibal in the box, a quick VAR check ruled out any possible chance of a penalty kick.
Cheti was soon amongst the thick of the action, picking up a yellow for a rash lunge on Seifeddine Jaziri. From the resulting free-kick Tunisia created the best chance of the game as back post cross found Bilel Ifa who saw his header thump off the crossbar.
Tunisia grew in confidence and went close again as Naim Siliti’s rasping shot was tipped just over the bar by Les Vert's captain Raïs M'Bolhi.
Algeria surged forward and had a golden chance to open the scoring just before the half-hour mark as Bounedjah played in a perfect cross for Tayeb Meziani who spurned his shot wide, thankfully the offside flag was raised to spare any Tunisian blushes.
Algeria came close again moments later as Youcef Belaïli cut the ball back to Yachine Brahimi but the Al Rayyan attacker was crowded out by the Tunisian backline.
Tempers frayed as the first half came to an end with Tunisian pair Yusef Msakni and Seifeddine Jaziri alongside Baghdad Bounedjah picking up yellow cards for incidents off the ball.
The second half started with Algeria looking again for a penalty again their opponents VAR check for a handball by Tunisian defender Ghaylène Chaalali, which was turned down. The second half was characterized with plenty of breaks in play and both sides of players demanding yellow cards from their respective opponents.
Algeria had the better possession as the game progressed, but couldn’t quite make it count in the final third, whilst Tunisia was more than content to sit back and surge forward at opportune moments. Late on the Tunisian fans thought their side deserved a penalty as Mohamed Dräger was upended in the box, which was waved away by German referee Daniel Siebert.
The best chance to end the tie fell to Tunisian striker Seifeddine Jaziri, who unbelievably smashed his shot wide with the goal at his mercy. Both sides failed to trouble the goal further, and the contest moved into extra time.
Algeria held onto the ball well and held their nerve when it counted. First, a flowing counterattack went into their favour as substitute Amir Sayoud smashed the ball into the top corner in the 99th minute of the contest.
As Tunisia ramped up the pressure, Algerian stopper Raïs M'Bolhi pulled off a number of saves to keep Algeria in the contest.
Despite the relentless pressure from the Tunisians late on and a last-gasp claim for a handball penalty from Tunisia it was to be Algeria’s day, Yacine Brahimi sealed the contest from close range in what was the final kick of the game. It was more than enough to seal a first-ever FIFA Arab Cup for Les Verts.