Algeria was crowned Africa Cup of Nations champion for only the second time in its history, edging past Senegal 1-0 thanks to Baghdad Bounedjah’s early deflected goal.
After going behind, Senegal dominated for the remainder of the match but was unable to find an equalizing goal.
Midway through the second half, it looked as though Senegal had been handed a lifeline after referee Alioum Alioum awarded a penalty for handball.
However, after being advised by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) to review the incident on the pitch side monitor, Alioum overturned his original decision.
It was yet more heartbreak for Senegal, which is still yet to win the greatest prize in African football.
But it will be the manner of this defeat that will hurt the most. Algeria’s goal came from its one and only shot of the game and few would argue that Senegal were the better side for the other 88 minutes of the match.
Less than two minutes in — 79 seconds to be exact — you got the sense this was just going to be Algeria’s night, after the Fennec Foxes took the lead in bizarrely fortuitous circumstances.
Bounedjah silkily spun his defender and latched onto Riyad Mahrez’s through ball, cutting inside onto his right foot and firing at goal from range.
Senegal center-back Salif Sané got across to make a block and appeared to have done enough, but the ball looped high into the Cairo night — almost comically high — and somehow kissed the underside of the crossbar and nestled into net.
Midfielder Badou Ndiaye extended his arms in the direction of his goalkeeper Alfred Gomis, inquiring as to why he made no attempt to get back and prevent the goal.
Presumably, like thousands of others in the stadium, he thought the ball must have been going behind for a corner.