Africa Cup of Nations: Asamoah Gyan nets late Ghana winner against Algeria

Willie Grace | 1/23/2015, 7:49 p.m. | Updated on 1/23/2015, 7:49 p.m.
Following 91 minutes of a game of football that had very little to show for it, Asamoah Gyan -- back ...

(CNN) -- It's proving to be a roller-coaster ride for Ghana at this year's Africa Cup of Nations.

After the heartache of conceding a last-minute winner against Senegal in its opener, ecstasy has followed with the Black Stars stealing all three points at the death in their second Group C match against tournament favorite Algeria.

Following 91 minutes of a game of football that had very little to show for it, Asamoah Gyan -- back for Ghana after a bout of malaria -- was on hand to keep his nation's dream of a first Africa Cup of Nations title in 33 years alive.

Despite a poor showing, but for a handful of minutes at this tournament, Avram Grant's men will take heart from beating the competition's highest-ranked team -- the last time it defeated Algeria in the Africa Cup of Nations, it went on to win the whole thing in 1982.

The result means Ghana is now level on points with Algeria but leapfrogs the North African nation into Group C's second qualifying spot due to its superior head-to-head record.

The day's late game between South Africa and Senegal ended 1-1, leaving Group C very tight -- South Africa sit top, one point ahead of Ghana and Algeria, with bottom-placed South Africa a further two points adrift.

Ghana's chances of a victory against Algeria did not look quite so bright at halftime, however, following a cagey, scrappy 45 minutes bereft of any real quality, with the Black Stars desperate not to lose and the Desert Foxes happy with a draw.

Given that it was pretty much a must-not-lose affair for Ghana in Mongomo, Equatorial Guinea, jangling nerves were perhaps to be expected.

And they certainly had their wicked way in the first half, with a poor touch from Brimah Razak in Ghana's goal almost handing Yacine Brahimi the opener on a plate, only for the keeper to recover in time.

Algeria, equally, struggled to make an impact, lacking the enthusiasm going forward it showed in last summer's World Cup, though it did come closest to scoring in a drab first half through Nabil Bentaleb, who fired wide an Aissa Mandi delivery.

Ghana appeared a somewhat different team after the break, perhaps realizing that three points might be vital towards ensuring a first Africa Cup of Nations group-stage exit since 2006 is avoided.

Gyan first went close, heading an Harrison Afful cross agonizingly wide, while Andre Ayew and Jordan Ayew also had chances -- the older sibling heading over after his younger brother had earlier fired a flicked effort off target.

Inspired by its opponent, Algeria also picked up its performance going forward, resulting in a rather more open second 45 minutes.

One constant from the first half, however, remained -- a lack of quality in the final third.

That was until a shattered Gyan latched onto a long ball forward over the top deep into stoppage time and picked out the bottom corner.