Celebrations erupted across Dakar on Sunday night after Senegal claimed their first Africa Cup of Nations title in a penalty shoot-out over seven-time winners Egypt.
It was Sadio Mane who stepped up to make history for the West African nation in Cameroon’s Olembe Stadium, scoring the penalty that secured his team’s 4-2 victory in the penalty shoot-out. to make history for the West African nation on Sunday at the Olembe Stadium in Cameroon’s Yaounde, and banished the memories of the team’s 2019 failure when they lost the final to Algeria.
The victory banished memories of the team’s 2019 failure when they lost the final to Algeria, and was greeted with celebrations in Dakar. Thousands took to the streets. Crowds hugged and cried. Dozens ran onto a beach in a northern suburb, screaming to the night sky. People waved flags from the sunroofs of speeding cars.
“Senegal has lost so many trophies in the final. This is a relief. Finally, we have it!” said Pape Malick Diba, a 31-year-old trader who danced with friends at a fanzone in Dakar where supporters struggled to see the screens through the crowds.
Senegal were by far the better side in the final, but failed to capitalise on numerous opportunities to win the game with Mane missing a penalty earlier on.
With the game tied at 0-0 after 120 minutes of play, the match came down to penalties and tt was goalkeeper Edouard Mendy who saved a shot from Egypt’s Mohanad Lasheen in the shoot-out to allow Mane the chance for redemption and seal the win for Senegal.
Egypt had their goalkeeper Mohamed Abo Gabal to thank for getting them into the shoot-out as he was outstanding in keeping Senegal at bay in what was the fourth time in as many games they had played extra time in energy-sapping conditions.
There may be some poetic justice for Senegal coach Aliou Cisse, who was captain of the side in 2002 when they lost the final on penalties to Cameroon after a goalless draw, having missed his kick in the shoot-out.
Egypt, who had to do without suspended coach Carlos Queiroz in the dug-out, battled to get into the game and created only half-chances, with their talisman Mohamed Salah largely ineffective.
Salah was in tears at the end, having also lost the 2017 final to Cameroon and seeing his Liverpool teammate Mane seal his fate this time around.
Senegal fluffed the chance for an early lead when Mohamed Abdelmonem’s late, reckless challenge brought down left back Saliou Ciss.
Salah had a lengthy conversation with Gabal before Mane stepped up to take the spot-kick.
The latter went for power straight down the middle of the goal but his effort was saved, the 10th penalty miss in the tournament.
Ismaila Sarr’s trickery down the right wing caused more early problems for Egypt and his low cross was narrowly missed by Mane at the back post on two occasions.
Egypt finally caused some alarm in the Senegal box when Salah cut inside off the right and forced a good save from Mendy.
The pattern of play continued in the second half with Senegal doing most of the attacking and both Famara Diedhiou and Mane were denied by Gabal in quick succession.
Marwan Hamdi flashed a header wide at the other end, while in the first half of extra time, Gabal again made a fine stop to deny substitute Bamba Dieng.
But Senegal found the net when it mattered to take home the trophy.