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Fifa Arab Cup: Algeria beat Tunisia in final

Scoring two extra-time goals, Algeria defeats neighbour as it prepares to defend its Africa Cup of Nations title next month
Algeria's Rais Mbolhi lifts the trophy as they celebrate winning the Arab Cup on 18 December (Reuters/Suhaib Salem)

Algeria scored two extra-time goals to beat Tunisia 2-0 and win the 2021 Fifa Arab Cup final at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, on Saturday.

The goals, by substitute Amr Sayoud and Yacine Brahimi, gave Algeria the last-minute lead, adding the Arab crown to the Africa Cup of Nations title Algeria won in 2019, which it is set to defend in Cameroon next month.

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Sayoud, 31, made his international debut in Algeria's opening game of the tournament but did not play again until coming on just past the hour mark in the final.

His thunderous 99th-minute shot gave Tunisia goalkeeper Mouez Hassen no chance and turned Sayoud into an instant national hero.

Brahimi scored on a breakaway with the last kick of the game as Tunisia pushed everyone up for a last-gasp corner and he raced away unchecked after the ball was cleared by the Algeria defence.

Both countries were playing without their European-based players and looked tired at the end of the 18-day tournament but kept pressing for goals as they were cheered on by an estimated 60,500 people in attendance.

A World Cup rehearsal

The tournament was designed as a dress rehearsal for next year’s World Cup. It was the first time fans have packed into some of the stadiums Qatar has built in preparation for the global showpiece tournament.

Thousands of fan-filled cars decorated with Algerian, Tunisian and Qatari flags headed north along the desert expressway leading to Al Bayt Stadium, around 30 miles north of the capital Doha.

The stadium, which resembles a giant black and white Bedouin tent like those traditionally used by nomadic tribes in the Arab gulf, will be the venue for the World Cup's opening match.

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Tunisia struck the crossbar through Bilel Ifa in the 14th minute and Algeria goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi had to tip Naim Sliti’s effort over the top in a bright start for the underdogs.

But Algeria should have led when Tayeb Mezaini had the goal at his mercy in the 21st minute but put his effort wide.

Algeria had the better of the possession but the best opportunity of the second half went Tunisia’s way, as Seifeddine Jaziri led a last-minute counter-attack but put his shot into the side netting.

Algeria finally made the breakthrough in extra time, although they needed more saves from Mbolhi to keep their lead intact.

Algeria beat hosts Qatar to secure their place in the final, while Tunisia beat favourites Egypt to get through. 

Earlier on Saturday, Qatar beat Egypt to win third place in the FIFA Arab Cup after winning 5-4 on penalties in Doha's Stadium 974. 

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