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ALGERIA left it late - very, very late - to book their place in the final of the Arab Cup in Qatar after Youcef Belaili netted a winner in the 17th minute of second-half stoppage time.
The North Africans beat the hosts 2-1 in Wednesday's semi-final at the tournament, which is being used as a test event for next year's World Cup in Qatar.
Algeria had been on course for a routine 1-0 victory before Polish referee Szymon Marciniak added nine minutes of stoppage time, with Qatar's Mohammed Muntari heading home an equaliser in the 97th minute.
The match had seen just four substitutions and no major injury incidents after the break, leaving some in the stadium wondering where the added time came from, and Algeria coach Madjid Bougherra had mixed emotions after his side's victory.
"I was not happy at all," Bougherra said.
"When the referee came to me and said 'nine minutes', [it was] unbelievable. He came to me: "Coach, we will have nine minutes" - like something he negotiated with me. And it was never nine minutes."
A Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review of Muntari's equaliser meant more stoppage time was added by Marciniak, who then awarded Algeria a penalty in the 104th minute.
Belaili's spot-kick was saved but he scored the winner on the rebound, prompting wild scenes at Doha's Al Thumama Stadium. The Polish referee eventually blew the full-time whistle for the scheduled 90-minute match in the 109th minute.
"They played their hearts out, gave it their all and fought with spirit," former Rangers defender Bougherra said.
"Physically, the last 20 minutes were very difficult. It is incredible that we had almost 19 minutes of stoppage time.
"They deserve this win. I tip my hat to them."
Algeria defender Mehdi Tahrat added the end was "crazy".
Algerian winner beats Premier League record
Many of the 100 or so journalists attending the match also expressed surprise at the chaotic end.
"I have never seen such a thing in all my years covering football," said Israeli journalist Roy Jankelowitz.
"It was almost like we had extra time. The nine minutes of injury time were not justified. I didn't understand why, and then another 10 minutes? Perhaps six minutes was about right."
The Algerians will meet North African rivals Tunisia, who defeated Egypt 1-0, in the Arab Cup final on Saturday.
The matches are being played outside of Fifa's international calendar, which is why former international Bougherra, 39, is stepping in for regular Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi.
There have been some famous examples of late stoppage-time goals in club matches, including both strikes in a 1-1 draw between Arsenal and Liverpool in the Premier League in April 2011.
Robin van Persie scored for the Gunners in the 98th minute before an equaliser by Dirk Kuyt four minutes later in a game held up after a clash of heads between two Liverpool players.
Kuyt's goal is the latest scored in the English top flight since it was re-launched in 1992.
Meanwhile, a Brazilian game between Gremio and Nautico in 2005 featured a goal scored in the 106th minute by former Manchester United midfielder Anderson.
Algeria's experience in Qatar reaffirms the old cliche that you have to play until the final whistle.
- Dec. 17, 2021 @ 09:42 GMT |
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