Last-gasp Jemaa sinks Niger
A late strike from Issam Jemaa put Tunisia on the verge of securing their place in the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals as they edged Niger 2-1.
Last Updated: 27/01/12 6:38pm
A late strike from Issam Jemaa put Tunisia on the verge of securing their place in the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals as they edged Niger 2-1 in Libreville on Friday evening.
The game got off to a blistering start with the Eagles of Carthage breaking into the lead just four minutes in as Youssef Msakni picked up the ball near the half-way line before ghosting past a handful of defenders and rolling the ball home past the goalkeeper.
Moments later and an error from Aymen Mathlouthi allowed Mena back in, with the Tunisia goalkeeper mis-controlling a long ball over the top, allowing William Tonji Ngounou to sneak in and loop his header into the back of the empty net.
Msakni continued to cause headaches for the Niger defenders and came close on a number of chances, although he was unable to keep his efforts on target and the scores remained level.
Moussa Maazou, who had been Mena's most likely outlet for goals, should have put his side ahead shortly after the 30-minute mark after showing a blistering turn of pace to leave his marker choking in the dust. He continued on with the ball into the area before opening his body to roll his effort into the bottom corner, but the ball dribbled agonisingly wide of Aymen Mathlouthi's post.
The first-half ended with a big penalty appeal as Hagui appeared to get in the way of Maazou who had cut inside the area at pace, but the referee was right there and was happy to wave play-on.
The second-half proved to be less enthralling as the first, but both sides had their chances to clinch all the points.
Mena introduced Darragi at the expense of Zouhair Dhaouadi, and the substitute almost had an instant impact, breaking through on goal only to be thwarted by the on-rushing goalkeeper who was off his line in a flash.
Tunisia then had their chance to regain the lead through Aymen Abdennour's stinging long-range drive, but the ball hit the base of the post before going out for a goal-kick.
However, right on the 90-minute mark Tunisia grabbed the vital goal as some slack defending played Issam Jemaa on-side, and he cut back inside before losing his marker and rifling his ball low past the keeper.
The result leaves Tunisia on the verge of qualification for the quarter-finals while Niger's AFCON run looks all but over.