YAOUNDE, Cameroon – Sadio Mané delivered a first African Cup of Nations title for Senegal on Sunday by drilling the decisive penalty in a shootout into the bottom left corner to beat Egypt and his Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah.
Mané kept his nerve despite having missed a penalty in the seventh minute of the game — with Salah giving his goalkeeper some advice before that first penalty — and Senegal won the shootout 4-2 after the final ended 0-0 after extra time.
Egypt missed twice in the shootout, meaning Salah, who was meant to be his team’s last penalty taker, could do nothing but watch his club teammate win it.
Senegal had lost two finals previously, including against Algeria at the last African Cup in Egypt in 2019, when Mané was left inconsolable.
This time he delivered the winning moment. He raced off to joyously celebrate with teammates but also returned to spend a moment consoling Salah, who was in tears.
The final at the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde, Cameroon, was billed as a battle between Liverpool stars Mané and Salah, who were both searching for their first major title with their country.
But it never reached the heights of a classic final despite the presence of the two superstars.
Senegal missed a series of chances in normal time and extra time, including Mané’s early penalty, which was saved by Egypt goalkeeper Mohamed Abou Gabal.
Egypt’s players appeared fatigued after all three of their previous knockout games also went to extra time, and they seemed to be playing for a shootout in a bid to win a record-extending eighth African title.
Egypt won shootouts in the last 16 and the semifinals to get to the final but missed two penalties in Sunday’s shootout.
Defender Mohamed Abdelmonem was the first to miss, with his penalty cannoning off the post. But Senegal’s Bouna Sarr had the next penalty saved by Abou Gabal, who had also pulled off save after save during the game to keep Egypt in it.
Mohanad Lasheen had Egypt’s fourth penalty saved by Edouard Mendy, leaving Mané to win it.
The result was also special for Senegal coach Aliou Cissé, who was the team’s captain and missed the decisive penalty in a shootout when Senegal lost the 2002 African Cup final. Cissé was also coach for the 2019 disappointment. – AP