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Stoppage time penalty kick sends Algeria past hosts Qatar and into Arab Cup final

Doha hosted a FIFA Arab Cup semifinal that had all the drama as Algeria took down hosts Qatar by a 2-1 score on Wednesday. Djamel Benlamri opened the scoring for Algeria before a late equalizer in second half stoppage time levelled the match for Qatar, setting the stage for Youcef Belaïli’s winning goal in the 16th minute of stoppage time after having a penalty kick saved. Algeria will face Tunisia on Saturday to determine the winner of the Arab Cup while Qatar duel with Egypt for third place.

Algeria looked to assert themselves physically throughout the match and keep Qatar’s attack from having too much space to operate, finding success in the first half to prevent their opponents from scoring on the break. The closest Qatar came to opening the scoring in the first half was in the 12th minutes when a cross was cushioned down for Almoez Ali to turn and fire a volley that went over Raïs M’Bolhi’s goal. Algeria’s close call came in the 21st minute, but Baghdad Bounedjah was unable to redirect Tayeb Meziani’s brilliant cross on goal after Qatar keeper Saad Al Sheeb missed the ball.

Similarly to the earlier semifinal between Tunisia and Egypt, the match picked up pace in the second half. Qatar showed more promise of being able to create a goal compared to their first half efforts, but in the 59th minute it was Algeria who opened the scoring. A corner kick delivery from Yacine Brahimi saw Al Sheeb dive out and punch the ball away. However, full back Benayada was waiting for the ball and hit a volley on goal from 25 yards that took a slight deflection off Djamel Benlamri’s head before going through a crowd of defenders and into the goal.

Qatar pushed harder and harder to find their first goal, but the Algerian defense remained strong heading into what was supposed to be nine minutes of second half stoppage time. In the seventh minute of stoppage time, Qatar finally found their equalizer in a moment that sent the home crowd into a deafening roar. Ismaeel Mohammad received the ball on the right flank and curled in a cross to find Mohammed Muntari, who applied a brilliant headed shot from eight yards out that went in off the post past M’Bolhi.

The extensive celebration added plenty of more stoppage time, and certainly enough for one more goal. For a spell after the goal, it appeared that the match was Qatar’s to win, but the team elected to hold possession and play for extra time in a bizarre decision. In the 15th minute of second half stoppage time, Algeria’s moment came to break Qatari hearts. Left back Illyes Chetti sent Brahimi into the penalty area with a pass and Brahimi was clumsily tripped up by Abdulaziz Hatim, leading to a last minute Algeria penalty kick. Belaïli’s spot kick was well saved by Al Sheeb, but the ball bounced right back in front of goal for Belaïli to apply the finishing touch.

Highlights of the match are in the link below.

Highlights from FIFA TV

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