The match-winner was thrilled by Algeria’s progress to the tournament decider following a dramatic semi-final
Riyad Mahrez described Algeria reaching the Africa Cup of Nations final as “unbelievable” after setting up a showdown with Senegal thanks to his stunning last-gasp free-kick.
Mahrez was the hero in Cairo, where the Manchester City star curled a 95th-minute set-piece past Nigeria goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi to seal a dramatic 2-1 victory on Sunday.
Algeria had initially led through William Troost-Ekong’s own goal before Nigeria equalised via an Odion Ighalo penalty with 18 minutes remaining following a VAR review.
But it was Mahrez who played hero, firing a stunning free-kick to send his country to the finale while scoring his third goal of the tournament.
Mahrez and Algeria will now contest their first AFCON final since winning the tournament on home soil in 1990 when they face Senegal on Friday.
After his man-of-the-match performance, Mahrez said: “It was a very tough game today against a strong team.
“We were one goal up and were in control before VAR’s decision – they scored the penalty and in the last minute we converted our free-kick.
“We are very happy because to be in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations is something unbelievable.
“I think we have been very good in this tournament. We scored 12 goals and conceded two, that is the source of our confidence.
“We are looking forward to the final against Senegal. We played them in the group stage and we are expecting another tough game.”
Algeria topped Group C ahead of Senegal, who lost 1-0 to the Desert Foxes on matchday two last month.
Senegal booked their spot in the finale on Sunday with a 1-0 win over Tunisia thanks to Dylan Bronn’s own goal in extra time.
Both sides had penalties saved in normal time before Bronn inadvertently headed home what proved to be the only goal of the contest, sending his side into a third-place clash with Nigeria.