Tunisia have snatched a 1-0 win over Algeria in their Africa Cup of Nations Group D encounter on Tuesday.
Scores were locked at 0-0 until the dying moments of a dull North African derby in Rustenburg, until a brilliant stoppage-time strike from Youssef Msakni sealed three points for Tunisia, moving them level with the Ivory Coast on three points on top of Group D.
The match began as expected, as both sides looked intent on closing down their opponents with some unforgiving tackles flying in, resulting in a few off-the-ball incidents between the bitter rivals.
Prolific Tunisian striker Issam Jemaa was a victim of a committed challenge and had to leave the pitch on a stretcher early on in the first half, and he was replaced by Hamdi Harbaoui.
Algerian Sofiane Feghouli became the second man to be felled by a late tackle, which resulted in the first yellow card for the match for Aymen Abdennour in the 13th minute.
The continued stop-start nature of the game meant chances were few and far between until Algeria’s Foued Kadir was able to create some space on his right foot, but he could only slice his attempt into the arms of Moez Ben Cherifia in the Tunisia goal.
Algeria came close once more on the 30-minute mark when Feghouli tormented Tunisia down the left and curled in a pinpoint cross to Slimani Islam, who turned the ball towards goal with a header, but his attempt smashed into the crossbar.
Vahid Halilhodzic’s team certainly edged proceedings in the first half and would have been disappointed not to lead at the break.
The second half began in a similar vein, as both sides adopted a tactical and measured approach to their play, with Tunisia looking a tad more dangerous in the opening minutes.
A game which desperately needed a moment of inspiration saw Tunisia’s Harbaoui come close to providing the opener as he was released by Darragi down the left and tried to drive in an effort at the near post, but his shot was wide.
The game seemed to have petered out until Msakni cut inside and burst forward in stopage time, and he picked his spot and smashed home a shot into the top right corner to send Tunisian players and fans alike into rapture.
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