A stoppage time goal from captain Asamoah Gyan handed Avram Grant’s Ghana side a vital win, and leaves their qualification hopes for the quarter finals of the Africa Cup of Nations in their own hands.
In a game lacking quality, Gyan’s last-gasp winner was the only notable shot on target, but it was enough to secure a crucial three points.
The former Sunderland striker, who had been largely disappointing until he burst past the Algerian defence in the 92nd minute to finish past Rais Mbolhi, was back in the team after a bout of Malaria.
But despite his captain’s lack of threat throughout the game, Grant left him on the field, and was rewarded seconds from time.
Up until that point Gyan hadn’t looked at all fit, and for a player who possesses as much pace and skill as he does, it was notable that he didn’t get in behind the Algerian defence for the first time until after more than an hour had been played.
On that occasion, he fired a tame effort, which wouldn’t have given MBolhi any trouble even if had been on target, well wide.
Gyan’s return also meant that Jordan Ayew, dangerous in bursts on Tuesday, was wasted playing behind his captain – when the Lorraine forward moved alongside Gyan in the second half the Black Stars were significantly more positive.
Having lost to a late goal against Senegal, the Black Stars knew they could not afford another defeat against the pre-tournament favourites, and a draw would have meant hoping for other results to go their way.
But both sides offered very little going forward, with neither keeper making a save of note for 90 minutes.
After a dire first half, Ghana did try and play some more attacking football in the second period, but the closest they came to a goal before Gyan’s winner was when Jordan Ayew met his brother Andre’s cross with a clever flick that flew over the bar, while Gyan also saw a header flash across the face of goal.
In the absence of striker Islam Slimani, left out of the starting line-up despite scoring against South Africa, Algeria switched to a 4-4-2, with Yacine Brahimi pushed on alongside Ishak Belfodil, and Tottenham’s Nabil Bentaleb moving to the left side of midfield.
The Desert foxes dominated possession, but their passing lacked any sort of penetration, while Ghana were happy to sit back and play on the break.
The only opening before the break came after 20 minutes, when the Algerians put together a neat passing move to release right back Aissa Mandi, but his cut-back was sliced so badly by Bentaleb that it ended up going out for a throw-in.
Things were not helped by the overly fussy referee Koman Coulibaly, who seemed to think that Belfodil needed only to look at the ball to be penalized, but in truth neither side showed anything like the level of quality needed to win the game.
Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez was introduced midway through the second half, in attempt to reinvigorate the Algerian attack, and he did manage to trouble the Ghana defence soon after, but his shot was comfortably over the bar.
It summed up a game which disappointed for 92 minutes, before Gyan brought it to life.