Tuesday, 21 November 2017
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2018 FIFA WCQ: Algeria Penalty Denies Nigeria Victory

Yacine Brahimi converted a late and controversial penalty to secure a 1-1 home draw for Algeria to deny Nigeria victory in the final match of their World Cup qualifying campaign.

John Ogu’s exquisitely curled volley from range in the 62nd minute looked set to hand the Super Eagles victory at the Mohammed Hamlaoui Stadium in Constantine.

However, with three minutes to go, Brahimi tangled with Abdullahi Shehu in the box, with the referee awarding the hosts an unexpected penalty which the playmaker duly converted for Algeria’s second point of the campaign.

There had been earlier tension between the two players, with Brahimi fortunate to remain on the pitch after receiving a yellow card following a headbutt on the right-back.

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With qualification already secured, Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr made five changes to the side which started against Zambia, with Ola Aina, John Ogu, Oghenekaro Etebo, Kelechi Iheanacho and debutant Anthony Nwakaeme all coming into the side.

The unfamiliar personnel lead to a disjointed display early on, with Brahimi threatening from the opening minute.

However, Nigeria also boasted a threat of their own, with Iheanacho showing the kind of intelligent movement and dangerous change of pace in advanced areas that hasn’t been prevalent since he signed for Leicester City this summer.

Neither side created much during the first half, with any attempts at attractive, progressive football hampered by dire pitch conditions.

Nwakaeme had a weak speculative effort saved, and directed another shot at the goalkeeper after the break, while Liassine Cadamuro squandered two opportunities to head the hosts in front when Ikechukwu Ezenwa and his defence failed to deal with Brahimi’s corner kicks.

Brahimi had the opportunity to break the deadlock on the hour mark but missed from two yards out, before Nigeria – perhaps spurred into life by their let off – stepped up a gear to take the lead when Ogu curled home a delightful volley past Fawzi Chaouchi.

The goal had appeared likely to settle the contest and ensure the Super Eagles ended their fine campaign on a winning note, before the referee’s late intervention.

Nigeria finished the campaign on 14 points having taken their unbeaten streak in World Cup qualifying to 37 games, while Algeria remain at the foot of Group B on two points.

Zambia — second on seven — and third-placed Cameroon on six meet in Ndola on Saturday in their final group game.

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