Baghdad Bounedjah’s early goal propelled Algeria to a first Africa Cup of Nations title in 29 years after a fiery 1-0 victory over Sadio Mane’s Senegal in Friday’s final in Cairo.
Bounedjah gave Algeria a dream start in the second minute when his deflected shot looped over Senegal goalkeeper Alfred Gomis, and it proved enough for the 1990 champions to lift the trophy on foreign soil for the first time.
For Senegal, who lost to Algeria by the same scoreline in the group stage, the long wait for a first continental crown goes on as coach Aliou Cisse, the captain of the 2002 runners-up, again fell short in the final.
It was the first title-decider to feature two African coaches since 1998, with Algeria boss Djamel Belmadi completing a whirlwind 12 months at the helm after inheriting a side that failed to make it out of the group stage two years ago.
With defensive rock Kalidou Koulibaly suspended for Senegal, Salif Sane deputised at the back and Ismaila Sarr was recalled in attack, while Belmadi kept faith in the same side that overcame Nigeria with an injury-time free-kick from Riyad Mahrez.
Senegal thought they had won a penalty on the hour when Cameroonian referee Alioum Alioum pointed to the spot for a suspected handball by Adlene Guedioura, but the official reversed his decision after a VAR review.
Niang rounded an advancing Mbohli after a searching ball through from Cheikhou Kouyate but the forward sliced wide of the target from a tough angle, with the Algeria ‘keeper then acrobatically tipping over a rasping drive from Youssouf Sabaly.
The Desert Foxes started to look jaded as Senegal brought on fresh legs in Krepin Diatta and Mbaye Diagne, but Youcef Belaili nearly made it 2-0 when his cross brushed the head of a defender and skimmed the roof of the net.
Sarr blazed over on the volley as Algeria clung on to their advantage in the closing minutes, the final whistle greeted by an outpouring of raw emotion as the North Africans emerged worthy winners of the expanded 24-team event.
Algeria 1 (Bounedjah 2) Senegal 0
Rais Mbolhi; Mehdi Zeffane, Aissa Mandi, Djamel Benlamri, Ramy Bensebaini; Adlene Guedioura, Sofiane Feghouli (Mehdi Tahrat 85), Ismael Bennacer, Riyad Mahrez (capt); Youcef Belaili (Yacine Brahimi 84), Baghdad Bounedjah (Islam Slimani 89)
Coach: Djamel Belmadi (ALG)
Alfred Gomis; Lamine Gassama, Cheikhou Kouyate (capt), Salif Sane, Youssouf Sabaly; Idrissa Gueye, Badou Ndiaye (Krepin Diatta 59), Henri Saivet (Mbaye Diagne 75); Ismaila Sarr, Sadio Mane, Mbaye Niang (Keita Balde 85)
Coach: Aliou Cisse (SEN)
Algeria: Bensebaini 34 minutes, Belaili 54 minutes, Guedioura 90+4 minutes
Senegal: Gueye 79 minutes, Gassama 80 minutes
Referee: Alioum Alioum (CMR)