Algeria booked their spot in the Africa Cup of Nations round of 16 with a dour 1-0 win over Senegal on Friday morning.
It was a match billed as a blockbuster between 2 of the best sides in African football but Youcef Belaili’s second-half goal was the only moment of genuine quality in Cairo.
Even with Riyad Mahrez and Sadio Mane on the pitch, the forgettable Group C encounter was littered with an incredible 53 fouls and devoid of goalmouth action.
Algeria striker Baghdad Bounedjah had the two best chances of the first half, initially lobbing goalkeeper Edouard Mendy with an effort that was comfortably cleared by Kalidou Koulibaly, before he saw an effort saved by the Senegal custodian.
The action thankfully rose a level in the second half, Sofiane Feghouli fizzing a 48th-minute effort wide in a warning Senegal did not heed.
And the goal came in the very next minute, Feghouli running onto Mahrez’s pass and cutting back from the right-hand side before laying it off to Belaili who took a touch before rifling a right-footed effort into the back of the net.
Senegal could have won a penalty when it appeared that Mane was fouled, before their first effort on target in the 79th minute nearly produced an equaliser. Youssouf Sabaly’s long-range strike was parried into the path of Mbaye Diagne but the striker couldn’t get his header on target.