Senegal won their first Africa Cup of Nations title with a 4-2 penalty shoot-out triumph over seven-time winners Egypt, with Sadio Mane scoring the winning spot-kick after missing one in the early minutes of the game.
On Sunday at the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde, Cameroon’s Yaounde, Mane made history for the West African nation, erasing memories of the team’s 2019 setback when they fell in the final to Algeria.
In the shoot-out, goalkeeper Edouard Mendy saved a penalty kick from Mohanad Lasheen, giving Mane the chance to cement the win and give Senegal a well-deserved victory. Senegal had been by far the stronger side in the final but had missed multiple opportunities to win the game.
Egypt owes their place in the shootout to goalkeeper Mohamed Abo Gabal, who was brilliant in keeping Senegal at bay in what was the fourth game in a row that they had played extra time in exhausting conditions.
Senegal coach Aliou Cisse, who was captain of the team in 2002 when they lost the final on penalties to Cameroon following a goalless draw, may have received poetic justice for missing his penalty kick in the shoot-out.
Egypt struggled to get into the game without suspended coach Carlos Queiroz in the dugout, creating only half-chances with their talisman Mohamed Salah completely ineffectual.
Salah was in tears at the end after losing the 2017 final to Cameroon and seeing Liverpool teammate Mane seal his destiny this time.
Senegal blew an early lead when left back Saliou Ciss was taken down by Mohamed Abdelmonem’s late, dangerous challenge.
Salah and Gabal had a lengthy talk before Mane came forward to attempt the penalty kick.
The latter went for power right down the middle of the goal, but his effort was saved, making it the tournament’s tenth penalty miss.
Egypt’s early woes were compounded by Ismaila Sarr’s deception down the right wing, where his low cross was twice nearly missed by Mane at the back post.
When Salah cut inside off the right and forced a nice stop from Mendy, Egypt finally caused some concern in the Senegal box.
In the second half, the pattern of play remained, with Senegal doing most of the attacking and Gabal denying both Famara Diedhiou and Mane in rapid succession.
At the other end, Marwan Hamdi sent a header over, and Gabal made another fantastic save to deny substitute Bamba Dieng in the opening half of extra time.
Senegal, on the other hand, scored when it mattered most to win the trophy.