Algeria's Islam Slimani headed home for a 1-0 away victory over Cameroon in their World Cup playoff first leg in Douala on Friday to take a giant step towards a place at this year's finals in Qatar.
The tall striker extended his goal tally in the African qualifiers to eight with a powerful header from a 40th minute free kick for the winner in a cagey game at the Japoma Stadium.
Algeria host the return tie in Blida on Tuesday, well placed to qualify for their fifth appearance at the World Cup.
Friday’s victory marked a successful return to Douala for Algeria, who flopped horribly in the coastal city in January in the defence of their Africa Cup of Nations title, going home early after an embarrassing defeat by tiny Equatorial Guinea.
But coach Djamel Belmadi refused to push the panic button and kept faith with his side as they returned to Cameroon to forge a much better result.
Slimani rose above the defence to head the only goal with keeper Andre Onana pushing the ball up against the underside of the bar but unable to stop it from nestling in the net.
Slimani had an earlier chance to put Algeria ahead but his 13th minute shot, on a breakaway after a defensive error, was well stopped by Onana.
Cameroon, with former captain Rigobert Song making his debut as coach, were unable to break down a resolute Algeria defence and lost captain Vincent Aboubakar, the top scorer at the Cup of Nations finals, to injury at halftime.
Their best chance came late in the game when Karl Toko Ekambi was on target but Algeria keeper Rais Mbolhi saved.
The match was interrupted for six minutes early in the second half as the lights went out in the newly-built stadium but were quickly restored.
It meant there were 11 minutes of added time, with Cameroon furiously trying to attack but Algeria getting all their players behind the ball as they held out for the victory.