Algeria though they had their ticket to the 2022 FIFA World Cup signed and delivered but a last gasp strike from Karl Toko Ekambi in extra time gave visiting Cameroon a 2-2 draw in Blida on Tuesday, sending the Indomitable Lions to Qatar on away goals. Eric Choupo-Moting’s first half strike gave Cameroon a 1-0 victory in regular time, leveling the match 1-1 on aggregate before the teams traded goals late in extra time to give the visitors the edge. The Indomitable Lions will return to world football’s biggest stage after missing out in 2018.
Cameroon’s poor performance in the first leg suggested that if hosts Algeria stayed the course a spot in Qatar would be inevitable but the visitors had other ideas. Algeria certainly looked more likely to score throughout normal time but the pressure began to build on the Fennecs when the Indomitable Lions found a surprise opener in the 22nd minute. Goalkeeper Raïs M’Bolhi came out to claim a corner kick but bumped into his own defender, causing him to spill the ball before Choupo-Moting was quickest to react and turned in to silence the home crowd.
The visitors were forced to defend for the majority of the match following the goal but stayed in the match due to brilliant saves from goalkeeper André Onana and wastefulness from Algeria. Winger Youcef Belaïli had a brilliant chance when he got on the end of an Islam Slimani cross in the 28th minute but somehow put his finish wide from close range with the goal begging.
Algeria superstar Riyad Mahrez found center back Abdelkader Bedrane with a corner kick in the 55th minute but the Espérance defender sent a free header over the bar. Cameroon nearly found the crucial second away goal in the 68th minute when a cross from Collins Fai found Léandre Tawamba, whose header was well saved by M’Bolhi before the veteran keeper denied a follow up attempt from Martin Hongla.
Extra time was needed after the teams ended normal time tied 1-1 with each having an away goal, and it appeared that Algeria had the Indomitable Lions on the ropes. Slimani appeared to give the hosts the lead in the 98th minute from close range but Video Assistant Referee judged that the ball came off the veteran striker’s upper arm. Algeria finally obtained their apparent winner in the 118th minute when defender Ahmed Touba was unmarked to head in a Rachid Ghezzal corner kick.
However, Cameroon never gave up and in the fourth minute of stoppage time, a throw-in came short to Fai and he lobbed in a cross to find Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui, who flicked the ball into the path of Toko Ekambi for the Lyon striker to smash past M’Bolhi. The Cameroonian team and nation leapt to celebration while the Algerian team and fans were left in utter disbelief, especially manager Djamel Belmadi.
Click the link below for highlights from the match.