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Toko Ekambi scores sensational winner to send Cameroon to World Cup

By Reuters - Mar 30th 2022
February 5, 2022 Burkina Faso fan in the stands before the match REUTERS

Karl Toko Ekambi scored a 124th-minute winner as Cameroon sensationally booked their place at the World Cup in Qatar with a 2-1 victory over hosts Algeria in their playoff tie at the Stade Mustapha Tchaker on Tuesday.

Algeria looked to have booked their place when Ahmed Touba netted with three minutes remaining at the end of extra-time, but as Cameroon pushed everyone forward for the final play of the game, Toko Ekambi latched onto a headed pass from Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui to net a most unlikely winner.

The victory on the away goals rule, following a 2-2 aggregate draw, seals an eighth World Cup finals appearance for the Indomitable Lions and follows a 1-0 win for Algeria in the first leg on Friday that left them heavy favourites to advance.

It seals a disastrous few months for the north African side who were dumped out of the Africa Cup of Nations finals, ironically played in Cameroon, in the first round in January as they gave up the title they won in 2019.

But the night was Cameroon’s to celebrate after Eric Choupo-Moting had given them the lead in the first half, a goal which took the tie to extra time.

His strike came via a mistake from Algeria goalkeeper Rais M'Bolhi, who dropped the ball under pressure from his own team mate at a corner and Choupo-Moting reacted quickest to turn the loose ball into the net.

It was a goal that rocked the hosts, who were unable to find their usual fluency and snatched at the chances that came their way.

Islam Slimani laid the ball on a plate for Youcef Belaili, who just had Cameroon goalkeeper Andre Onana to beat, but fired wide.

Houcine Benayada then forced a good stop from Onana and Slimani netted from the rebound, but the latter was correctly ruled offside.

Riyad Mahrez saw his shot saved, and from the resultant corner Abdelkader Bedrane headed over as the chances kept on coming for the home side.

Then came a moment of some controversy. Slimani thought he had headed Algeria into an extra-time lead, but the goal was ruled out for handball after a review by the Video Assistant Referee.

Touba looked to have won the tie for the home side though with his free header at the back post from a corner, but the last word fell to Toko Ekambi as Cameroon grabbed a memorable victory.

 

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