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Tunisia 1-0 Algeria

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M'sakni (R): Struck the match-winner

M'sakni (R): Struck the match-winner

Tunisia snatched a 1-0 win over Algeria on the stroke of full-time in their scrappy Africa Cup of Nations clash on Tuesday at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium.

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With the 90 minutes of regulation time up and against the run of play, Youseff M'sakni's well-placed shot from out in front beat a hapless Rais M'Bohli to nestle in the top corner.

The Tunisians now go joint-top of Group D, labelled the 'Group of Death', with the last-gasp victory over the Algerians - this after tournament favourites Ivory Coast defeated Togo 2-1 earlier in the day.

The tone of the encounter in Phokeng between the North African rivals was set as early as the seventh minute when Tunisia's top-scorer Issam Jemaa had to receive treatment after coming off the worse in a collision.

He managed to get back to his feet, only to limp on for eight more minutes before Carthage Eagles coach Sami Trabelsi withdraw the dangerman for Hamdi Harbaoui.

It was frustratingly stop-start from then on out, the shrill of referee Bakary Gassama's whistle having reverberated around the stadium as the flow of the match was severely hampered by several off-the-ball incidents and late tackles.

No less than four yellow cards were dished out for the match, with a foul taking place every two minutes of the encounter.

However, when play was underway, the Algerians looked the most likely to make something happen as they favoured the left channel through Foued Kadir and Djamel Mesbah.

Along with chief attacker Sofiane Feghouli, Kadir and Mesbah were constantly looking to provide frontman Islam Slimani with the telling ball inside the box.

Slimani came close on a few occasions, his best effort in the 29th minute saw him hit the crossbar with well-taken header off Feghouli's pin-point cross from the left.

The Eagles had their first real chance on goal just before the break when Saber Khelifa was denied at the near post by a great reflex stop by Rais M'Bolhi.

It was much the same niggling affair after the restart, with loose challenges and pushing and shoving keeping Gassama's whistle almost permanently at his lips.

Mesbah and Adlene Guedioura kept Eagles shot-stopper Moez Ben Cherifa busy with a few long-range teasers, but other than that the Algerians struggled to create an opening despite their dominance.

As the match wore on, Feghouli also had less of impact, the Valencia man failing to really live up to his star-billing by taking the match by the scruff of the neck.

And with only their third shot on goal for the game, Tunisia almost got the breakthrough in the 75th minute with Harbaoui's effort at the near post off fellow replacement Oussama Dagarri's pass into the box, the final shot just wide.

But just when the match looked likely to finish goalless, M'sakni unleashed from outside the box to send Tunisia's bench and spattering of fans into ecstasy.

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Posted: 22/01/13 20:16

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