Michael Olunga (3rd R) of Kenya vies with Youcef Atal (4th R) of Algeria during the 2019 African Cup of Nations Group C match between Algeria and Kenya in Cairo, Egypt, on June 23, 2019. Algeria won 2-0. (Xinhua/Li Yan)
CAIRO, June 23 (Xinhua) -- Senegal's Teranga Lions began their hunt for a maiden Africa Cup of Nations title with a 2-0 win over Tanzania's Taifa Stars, while Algeria's Les Fennecs beat Kenya's Harambee Stars 2-0 at the June 30 Stadium here on Sunday.
The victory took Algeria to joint top place with Senegal who mirrored the same result against Tanzania in the early kick-off at the same venue.
Senegal dominated the game from gun to tape and should have won by a bigger margin, but left satisfied with three precious points especially in the absence of their star striker Sadio Mane who was suspended for the opening tie.
Keita Balde opened the scoring after 27 minutes, striking a low shot from the right that evaded Tanzania keeper Aishi Manula's grasp.
Senegal were rewarded with a goal after dictating much of the play and should have gone to the break at least three goals up.
Senegal were forced into a change after 20 minutes, Salif Sane coming off with an ankle injury after landing awkwardly. His place was taken by Cheikou Kouyate.
The Teranga Lions continued their dominance even after scoring and should have been two up after 31 minutes. Balde played the ball to Ismaila Sarr on the right who teed up Idrissa Gana Gueye, but the latter's shot from close range was over.
Two minutes later, Sarr had a goal disallowed after Kouyate was adjudged to have handled the ball as he raced to a rebound off keeper Manula. Papa Ndiaye tried his luck with an acrobatic kick of a Balde freekick in the 41st minute, but it flew just over.
Senegal dominated more in the second half and made it 2-0 when Diatta struck a screamer from 35 yards out after a clearance off a corner fell kindly for him.
Niang should have added another goal minutes later but missed a sitter unmarked inside the box off a Sarr cross.
At the same stadium, a Baghdad Bounedjah penalty and Riyad Mahrez's deflected strike handed Algeria victory courtesy of a well choreographed first half performance.
Kenya came back a better side in the second half, but didn't have enough in their vaults to fight for victory.
Algeria was the better side the entire first half forcing Kenya to play in their own half and were limited to only two efforts at goal, both going wide.
Bounedjah had shown his potent as early as the second minute of the game when he raced onto a long pass inside the box but his shot on the volley went over. In the 13th minute, Bounedjah was axed at the edge of the box by Abud Omar.
Mahrez stepped over the resultant freekick and his effort went inches wide. Algeria came close in the 24th minute when Kenya keeper Patrick Matasi spilled Youcef Bellaili's shot after he was played through by Sofiane Feghouli.
Four minutes later, Mahrez had another effort with a free kick from range that went agonizingly wide with keeper Matasi found flat footed.
The Algerians were finally rewarded for their pressure after 32 minutes off the penalty spot after Dennis Odhiambo axed Youcef Atal inside the box. Bounedjah stepped forward and made no mistake from 12 yards out.
Kenya's chances at goal came late in the first half with Ayub Timbe and Eric Johannah trying shots from the right, both going wide.
In the second half, Kenya was better and limited Algeria from playing the ball. The change to bring out Francis Kahata for Erick Ouma proved decisive for Sebastien Migne's boys, but scoring was a problem.
The Harambee Stars next play Tanzania in the East Africa derby next Thursday while Algeria face Senegal.