Ayem Mahious scored two goals as hosts Algeria hammered Niger 5-0 to reach the final of the TotalEnergies African Nations Championship (CHAN) on Tuesday.
Mahious scored his fourth and fifth goals of the tournament in the first-half to secure the emphatic victory for the Desert Warriors in Oran.
Captain Ayoub Abdellaoui opened the floodgates before Mahious’ brace extended the lead to 3-0 before an own goal by Boureima Katakore put the home side in the driving seat at hlalf-time.
Substitute Sofiane Bayazid sealed the emphatic victory with just seven minutes left to give the home side the biggest win of the tournament so far.
The Desert Foxes took the lead in the 15th minute after constant pressure on the opponent’s area yielded the necessary result when goalkeeper Mahamadou Djibo made a hash of Abderrahmane Meziane’s corner.
Captain Abdellaoui, who was lurking at the far post, latched on with a header to put his side into the lead and send the home fans agog.
Niger just could not settle afterwards as Mahious caught the ball on the half-volley at the 23rd minute to beat Djibo for the second time in the afternoon for his fourth goal of the competition.
Algeria extended their lead to 3-0 as another set-piece delivery in the 34th minute was headed by Mahious and the ball went past Djibo for the striker’s second goal of the match.
A stunned Harouna Doula made two quick changes to help halt the commanding style of the Desert Foxes with supersub Ousseini Badamassi substituted in for impetus upfront for the Menas.
But the situation did not change as once again the set-piece was the undoing of Niger. A corner from the right by Belkhiter was turned in by Niger skipper Abdoulaye Kakore to make it 4-0 before the break.
There was no way back for Niger and the 39,000 fans at the packed Miloud Hadefi Stadium started the celebrations thanks to the emphatic first-half performance from the host nation.
Algeria returned from the break and with Sunday’s final already in mind, they adopted a more of a conservative approach that allowed Niger to come into the game strongly by creating some few anxious moments.
Both sides made several substitutions and this added more bite to Niger’s attack as they fought back bravely resulting in a free-kick after a foul on Boubacar Hainikoye at the edge of the area at the 78th minute. Adamou Ibrahim’s resultant shot was on target but did not have enough power to beat Chaal.
The home-based Desert Foxes finished the game off as second-half substitute Bayazid netted at the 83rd minute, after a VAR review overruled the referee’s initial off-side call.
The goal sealed the victory for the Algerians and put them in the final of the CHAN for the first time in their history just as impressive striker Mahious was put in the driving seat of the Golden Boot race with five goals, two more than Madagascar’s Koloina Razafindranaivo.
Algeria will face Senegal in Saturday’s final of the tournament at the Nelson Mandela Stadium.