88 mins: Musa plays the ball to Henry, just inside the area, but he takes a low-percentage shot that wasn’t going in, and certainly wasn’t once it clipped a defender’s calf. The referee didn’t see that either. Goal kick.
86 mins: Belaili run down the left, lifts the ball over Awaziem, and is taken out by the defender, who I thought made a deliberate movement as he slid under the ball to make sure he caught his opponent’s leg. The referee sadly doesn’t have slow-motion eyes, and gives a goal kick.
84 mins: There have been two free kicks in the last couple of minutes. Mahrez for Algeria and Etebo for Nigeria both overhit them, one into touch and one to the keeper. There’s very little precision about anything anyone’s doing.
80 mins: It’s been a poor second half, in which next to nothing has been created from open play. Iwobi has a shot from 23 yards or so, which is on target but easily stopped.
78 mins: A first substitution, and it sees Henry replace Chukwueze for Nigeria.
76 mins: So nearly 200 minutes of semi-finals have been played, and we’ve had two own goals and a penalty. Will this one follow the first into extra time?
GOAL! Algeria 1-1 Nigeria! Ighalo scores from the spot!
72 mins: Such a long delay, and it ends with Ighalo sending the goalkeeper the wrong way before sidefooting a splendid spot-kick into the corner of the net!
72 mins: Odion Ighalo will take it. He places the ball on the spot …
Penalty to Nigeria!
71 mins: The referee does give the penalty! And he books Mandi to boot!
70 mins: Finally, the referee goes to have a look himself. I think he’ll point to the spot here.
69 mins: Mandi is the defender in question. The game has been held up while the VAR had a good look at all available replays. It’s all taking way too long, though.
69 mins: That looked awfully handbally to me. The defender’s arm was not far from his body, but the ball took a long time getting there.
68 mins: Nigeria appeal for handball as Etebo’s shot is blocked inside the area, but nothing is given (yet). Feghouli is then booked for a foul on Etebo.
66 mins: Nigeria are straining to find a way back into this game, but Algeria have contained them well. Still, while the margin is so slender they remain just one brilliant moment from parity.
63 mins: Algeria win a free-kick on the left. It’s headed to the edge of the area and eventually falls to Feghouli, whose volley flies well wide.
59 mins: Iwobi holds off Mahrez before squirting a shot wide from 25 yards.
57 mins: Guedioura is rolling around in apparent agony, after Musa – entirely innocently – trod on his foot.
55 mins: A nice combination from Nigeria ends when Musa doesn’t quite control, and the ball is aimlessly but emphatically booted clear.
55 mins: This is fun, a game being played at a really high tempo. Quite a lot of errors, but plenty of quality as well. But can anyone score a goal in the right net in these semi-finals.
52 mins: A first booking, and the yellow card is shown to Bounedjah for desperately hacking down Iwobi from behind as the Nigeria forward bursts through Algeria’s half on the counter.
50 mins: A lovely ball into the area looks for a moment destined for Bounedjah, but Troost-Ekong gets in the way.
47 mins: Bennacer is ordered off the field, apparently because the referee is not happy with the midfielder’s socks.
The players are on their way back out. Can Algeria hang on to this?
Entertain yourself through half-time with a report on the other semi-final:
Half time: Algeria 1-0 Nigeria
45+2 mins: Algeria deservedly lead at the break. They should have had more – Bounedjah should have had a brace, for a start – but though Riyad Mahrez has been very quiet, the only time he’s got into Nigeria’s area it led to a goal. I’ll be back in a few minutes.
45+1 mins: Into stoppage time, of which there’ll be about a minute.
43 mins: Not just a stroke of luck but an entire bucket of luck-strokes for Algeria, but the scoreline still doesn’t reflect their dominance of this game, at least in terms of chance creation. They should probably be three up, but in the end they needed their opponents to score for them.
GOAL! Algeria take the lead! And it’s an own goal! Algeria 1-0 Nigeria!
40 mins: Another chance for Algeria. A lovely pass to Mahrez on the right, with three players to his left. He ghosts past Collins and crosses; the ball flicks off Collins, hits Troost-Ekong on the stomach and flies into the net!
39 mins: Ighalo shoots just wide! Iwobi passes to him on the edge of the area. His first touch is good, and he can’t see the team-mate running into space to his left, so he shoots low but just beyond the far post!
36 mins: Nearly an own goal now! Again the ball is lifted through towards Bounedjah; Collins flings out a foot and sends the ball floating over his goalkeeper, and just over the bar! Then the corner picks out Feghouli beyond the far post, and he attempts a ludicrously tough scissor-kick, which sends the ball in entirely the wrong direction. Just head it in lad!
33 mins: Now a penalty shout for Algeria. Bounedjah and Troost-Ekong run along the left-hand edge of the box, shoulder to shoulder. There’s certainly contact, but they’re both leaning in and a penalty would have been absurdly harsh. So just as well it wasn’t given.
31 mins: Nigeria have a free-kick just outside the penalty area, on the right-hand corner. Someone in the crowd is shining a green laser-pointy-thing in Chukwueze’s face as he prepares to take it. Eventually he curls in a left-foot shot that M’bolhi saves easily enough.
29 mins: Algeria miss another glorious chance! They play another early pass over the defence. Omeruo totally fluffs his attempt to defend it and Bounnedjah runs onto it and into the area, with only the goalkeeper to beat, and … he hits a desperately weak shot straight into Akpeyi.
26 mins: Zeffane runs down the right, gets near the byline and then shanks his cross straight into touch.
23 mins: Both teams are going a bit long and a bit early at present, high-risk passes which aren’t really paying off.
19 mins: The ball is played over the top for Belaili, but Awaziem blocks his path. That looked a bit like deliberate obstruction, but nothing’s given.
18 mins: Now a chance for Nigeria! Chukwueze crosses from deep on the right, and Awaziem at the far post heads high! This is all very promising.
16 mins: Another miss from Algeria! Bennacer plays a beautiful ball into the penalty area from a free-kick on the left, and Bensebaini rises unmarked just beyond the penalty spot but heads over the bar!
13 mins: Ighalo buys another free-kick, this time making the most of a little contact from Benlamri, who was behind him. Nothing comes of it.
11 mins: Algeria continue to push. Bennacer’s shot hits a defender at the end of a long period in which they moved the ball around the periphery of Nigeria’s penalty area without ever quite creating the killer chance.
7 mins: What a chance for Algeria! It’s a cross from the left from Belaili. Akpeyi dives forwards to grab the ball but fluffs it, and it bounces up and into Bounedjah’s hip, level with the far post and with the goal completely unguardarded. It deflects the wrong side of the stick!
7 mins: Another attempt to release Musa down Nigeria’s left flank, but this time the pass is overhit and runs away for a goal kick.
5 mins: Musa is released down the left, but is tackled as he attempts to jink infield.
3 mins: Neither side has done anything that could reasonably be called an attack so far. A bit of gentle sparring to start things off.
1 min: After 20 seconds Guedioura runs into Ighalo, and gets a talking-to from the referee. In fact there wasn’t much contact, and Ighalo made the very most of it.
Algeria and Nigeria have only played each other eight times, surprisingly. They’ve won three apiece and drawn twice.
The winners will play Senegal, back in this stadium on Friday. Senegal beat Tunisia after extra time across town a little earlier.
The players are on their way out of the long, red-carpeted tunnel. It’ll be interesting to see how the players cope with the disruption of being glued to the Cricket World Cup final for the last few hours.
Riyad Mahrez is practising those far-post curlers:
The teams have been announced, and here they are:
Algeria: M’Bolhi; Zeffane, Mandi, Benlamri, Bensebaini; Feghouli, Guédioura, Bennacer; Mahrez, Bounedjah, Belaili.
Nigeria: Akpeyi; Awaziem, Troost Ekong, Omeruo, Collins; Ndidi, Etebo; Chukwueze, Iwobi, Musa; Ighalo.
Nigeria have made their way to the semi-finals without beating any team at this tournament by more than a single goal, and despite losing 2-0 to Madagascar in their final group game. Algeria have been more fluent, though they needed penalties to squeeze past Ivory Coast in the quarter-finals. “We have a team of warriors and we must seize our chance to win this tournament,” roars Riyad Mahrez, and the bookmakers at least are backing them to reach the final.
How things change. The teams last met in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, when Algeria came last in Group B while Nigeria won it at a canter. “They were fragile at the time,” says the Nigeria coach, Gernot Rohr. “We beat them 3-1 and there were lots of individual mistakes, they made it easy for us. In the return match [drawn 1-1] they were also fragile. Now they are solid, they have a good balance between attack and defence, they are still very physical and they have progressed a lot. It will be a very different match from those two years ago.” Indeed, Rohr insists that Algeria are strong favourites for this match, though that is a tag he appears to always give to his team’s opponents.
Algeria boast the defender Ramy Bensebaini, author of one of the most memorable moments of the tournament in the last round, when he grabbed Wilfried Zaha’s arm, smacked himself in the face with it, and then rolled around attempting to get his opponent sent off. The referee missed his efforts entirely. “It happens everywhere. Players try to cheat, to fall down and get fouls and the best way is to play smart,” says Nigeria’s Kenneth Omeruo.
Omeruo, incidentally, has now been at Chelsea for more than seven years without ever playing for them – he has racked up a half-century of international caps since signing – and has declared a desire to leave London (though given the number of loans he’s had he can’t have spent much time there) this summer.
Anyway, hello! Team news imminent. It’s been a big day of sport, but it’s not over yet!