Yahia the hero for Algeria
© AFP

Antar Yahia's spectacular first half goal earned Algeria the final African qualifying spot in next year's FIFA World Cup™ finals in South Africa. The centre-half volleyed home five minutes before half-time and a solid rearguard effort in the second half kept out Egypt. Emad Meteab had the best chance for Egypt but was denied by impressive Algeria keeper Fawzi Chaouchi.

A capacity crowd filled the Khartoum Stadium in Sudan - with 5,000 more fans locked outside the ground. Meteab's early mis-hit was easily gathered by Chaouchi and Algeria's Nadir Belhadj was booked inside the first minute after Ahmed Al-Muhammadi reacted theatrically to his foul. Abdelkader Ghezzal saw a header saved by Egypt keeper Essam El Hadary before Mourad Meghni's challenge on Egypt skipper Ahmed Hassan in only the fourth minute sparked a mass flare-up which saw Hassan booked.

Abdel Zaher El Sakka's looping header saw Chaouchi leap to make the game's first serious save, before Yahia threatened at the other end after Ziani's free-kick sparked a scramble. El Hadary saved the defender's drive with his legs. Belhadj went close from a free-kick after Rafik Saifi went down under Hassan's challenge. Incidents in the penalty area, centring around Zaki, delayed the taking of the kick near the corner flag, but the Portsmouth full-back eventually curled it goalwards and forced a surprised El Hadary to tip over.

Mohamed Aboutrika volleyed wide from the edge of the box and Hassan's free-kick was far too high, but Chaouchi made a superb save from Al-Muhammadi's angled effort following Belhadj's error. Egypt, then, were claiming the upper hand - but it was Algeria who took the lead shortly afterwards. Ziani lofted a superb ball in and Yahia smashed a volley from a narrow angle in via the underside of the bar. Belhadj produced a brilliantly calm piece of defending to snuff out the chance of an equaliser following Mansouri's miskick and Zaki headed wide as the half ended.

Egypt coach Hassan Shehata introduced Mohamed Zidan and Hosni Abd Rabou for Zaki and Fathi at half-time. The half sprung into life, though, with chances at each end within a minute. First Hassan Yebda's cross was met by a fierce downward header from Ghezzal, only for El Hadary to save, and then Chaouchi brilliantly denied Meteab after Zidan tricked his way into the box but failed to get a shot away.

Rabah Saadane, in his fifth spell as Algeria coach, introduced defender Samir Zaoui in place of goalscorer Yahia as he sought to shore up the game. Meteab was left on the ground in pain after being superbly denied by Chaouchi, but it was a rare sight of goal for Egypt as their final ball too often let them down.

Zidan went to ground seeking a penalty but was rightly ignored, and Chaouchi survived a late scare after missing a long ball under pressure from Aboutrika as Saadane's side held on.