African All Stars

AC Milan’s Bennacer fires Cameroon warning with winner against Balde’s Cagliari

12:46 AM WAT 20/03/2022
Ahead of next week’s World Cup play-off against the Indomitable Lions, the midfielder propelled the Red and Blacks to victory

Ismael Bennacer has sent Cameroon a strong warning ahead of next week’s 2022 Fifa World Cup qualification play-off with a goal as AC Milan secured a 1-0 win at Cagliari on Saturday.

The Algeria international’s effort proved to be the winner as the Red and Blacks brightened their chances of emerging as Serie A champions.

Following back-to-back victories against Napoli and Empoli, AC Milan travelled to Sardegna Arena to face their relegation-threatened hosts. 

They put up an impressive showing from the very blast of referee Marco Di Bello’s whistle, but the Islanders’ defence thwarted their waves of attacks.

As the game progressed, Cagliari grew in confidence to match Stefano Pioli’s side in terms of ball possession.

Even at that, the teams went into the half-time break a no winner, no vanquished note.

However, AC Milan took the lead a minute before the hour mark courtesy of Bennacer. After collecting a pass from Olivier Giroud, the 24-year-old drilled the ball past goalkeeper Alessio Cragno in emphatic fashion, sending the travelling support into raptures.

Not willing to go down without a fight, the hosts attacked in numbers but were unable to get the leveller, although they missed several scoring opportunities.

In the closing stages, Giroud was denied a second goal in three games by a sprawling Cragno save. 

At the end of 90 minutes, AC Milan returned home with maximum points with Cagliari extending their losing streak to three. 

Bennacer - who has now scored his second goal of the 2021-22 campaign - was on parade from start to finish alongside Cote d’Ivoire Franck Kessie and DR Congo prospect Pierre Kalulu. 

Whereas, Africa Cup of Nations-winning defender Fode Ballo-Toure was an unused substitute. 

For Cagliari, Keita Balde was introduced for Alberto Grassi with eight minutes left on the clock. 

Bennacer is expected to join the rest of the Algeria squad on Monday to commence preparations for their play-off against Rigobert Song’s Cameroon.

The Desert Foxes visit the Japoma Stadium, Douala for the first leg on March 25 before welcoming the Indomitable Lions to Blida’s Mustapha Tchaker Stadium four days later, with the winners on aggregate qualifying for Qatar 2022.