In a stunning turn of events at the Africa Cup of Nations, Mauritania secured a historic 1-0 victory over defending champions Algeria, marking their first-ever win in the continental finals. The upset not only propelled Mauritania into the round of 16 but also ended Algeria’s campaign in a catastrophic group stage exit.
The hero of the match was Yali Dellahi, who capitalized on a defensive lapse by Algeria’s Mohamed Amine Tougai in the 37th minute. Dellahi’s precise shot found the back of the net, securing a lead that proved insurmountable for the two-time AFCON winners.
Algeria, who lifted the trophy in 2019, struggled to find their rhythm and made strategic changes, including benching captain Riyad Mahrez, only to bring him on at halftime. Despite an improved second-half performance, Algeria failed to break through Mauritania’s resilient defense.
Mauritania’s goalkeeper, Babacar Niasse, played a pivotal role in preserving the lead, making crucial saves, including a spectacular stop against Hicham Boudaoui’s powerful header and a reflex save to deny Aïssa Mandi from close range.
The victory positioned Mauritania third in Group D with three points, ensuring qualification as one of the four best third-placed teams. Angola claimed the top spot with seven points, followed by Burkina Faso with four points. Algeria’s disappointing campaign concluded with only two points, finishing in fourth place.
Mauritania’s historic win adds a new dimension of excitement to the Africa Cup of Nations, showcasing the unpredictable nature of football on the continental stage. The underdogs will now face surprise Group B winners Cape Verde in the round of 16, promising further thrills and unpredictability in the knockout stage.