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2023 AFCON Qualifying: Mahrez strikes late to keep Algeria perfect in Group F

Algeria staged a second half comeback at home in the Nelson Mandela Stadium to top Niger 2-1 on Thursday in 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying. Baghdad Bounedjah equalized to cancel out Daniel Sosah’s first half strike for the Ménas before Manchester City playmaker Riyad Mahrez applied the finishing touch late on to make it three victories from three matches for the Fennecs. Niger remain one point ahead of both Tanzania and Uganda before the East African nations face off on Friday.

The hosts took control early on but looked particularly susceptible to the counter attack as they poured forward in numbers to find the opening goal. After the Nigerien team held out for the majority of the first half it was Ukrainian-based striker Sosah who stunned the home support when he ran onto a long pass and lifted a sublime finish over stranded Algerian goalkeeper Anthony Mandrea. Sosah had another excellent look just before halftime when Algeria were exposed again on the counter but the striker curled his shot just wide.

Enraged Algerian coach Djamel Belmadi made three halftime substitutions and the changes made instant dividends for the hosts. Prolific striker Baghdad Bounedjah returned from a 14-month exile from international football and scored within nine minutes of his return by nodding in a cross from Youcef Belaïli.

The Nigerien defense continued to bravely hold out with Bounedjah being denied a second in the 79th minute when his headed shot was cleared off the line by defender and captain Ousmane Diabate after a Mahrez header went off the crossbar. Algeria finally got the second goal they desired in the 89th minute when Farès Chaïbi lofted a pass into the penalty area to find fellow substitute Badredine Bouanani, who slid to touch the ball back to Mahrez who was left with an easy finish.

Highlights are below.

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