Senegal inflicted yet another penalty shootout defeat on Egypt as the African champions sealed their place at the World Cup 2022 on a dramatic night in Dakar.
Sadio Mane scored the winning penalty as Aliou Cisse’s side emerged 3-1 winners on spot-kicks after his Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah blazed his effort over the bar. However, it appeared a number of green lasers were directed on his face as he prepared his run-up.
It’s the second time in just two months that the Lions of Teranga have triumphed over their great African rivals by virtue of a penalty shootout after securing their first Africa Cup of Nations title back in January.
Boulaye Dia’s fourth-minute scrappy goal had given Senegal an early lead on the night as the hosts quickly restored parity in the tie following Friday’s first leg 1-0 defeat to the Pharoahs. Despite their domination, however, Senegal failed to find the net again and couldn’t prevent penalties.
Conceding so early had clearly incensed Egypt boss Carlos Queiroz and his pain was compounded as he was forced into making two first-half substitutions, losing defenders Rami Rabia and Omar Gabia to injury.
Senegal’s relentless pressure faded after the restart as the visitors weathered the storm and finally settled into the contest, upping the ante in search of what would have been a crucial away goal. Substitute Ahmed Sayed twice went close, as first he headed over from Salah’s cross and moments later shot wide from inside the box.
Into the last 10 minutes of normal time and with nerves frayed, Ismaila Sarr was released behind the Egypt defence by Mane’s perfectly weighted pass but with just the goalkeeper to beat the Watford forward sent his shot wide of the far post as another huge chance went begging.
Egypt shot-stopper Mohamed El-Shenawy rose to the occasion in extra-time, pulling out several top-drawer saves as Senegal peppered the visitors’ goal. He somehow repelled the misfiring Ismaila Sarr, who failed to score with the goal gaping and denied Pape Cisse on no fewer than three occasions.
Ultimately, however, the Al Ahly shot-stopper ended up on the losing side as Senegal deservedly claimed their place at Qatar this winter. None of the first four penalties were scored before Ismaila Sarr finally broke the deadlock. Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy then saved Mostafa Mohamed’s weak effort before Mane delivered the decisive kick.
It’s the third World Cup Senegal will be appearing in and for the first time they have qualified for back-to-back competitions.
TALKING POINT – LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE AS SENEGAL INFLICT MORE MISERY ON EGYPT
It may seem cruel that Egypt have again suffered heartache in a penalty shootout, but over the course of 180-plus minutes, Senegal deserve their place at Qatar, as they confirm their reputation as Africa’s ultimate powerhouse right now. Despite the narrow defeat, Aliou Cisse’s side shaded Friday night’s first leg and were by far the better side this evening, creating countless chances in a dominant display. Indeed, the game could – and should – have been sewn up long before it proceeded to spot-kicks.
Much of the pre-match build-up centred on Liverpool team mates Salah and Mane coming head-to-head for their respective nations once more. The former has been on blistering form this season for his club, but for his country he has flattered to deceive when it has mattered most. Having failed to influence tonight’s game, the 29-year-old lost his nerve in the shootout, blazing a poor effort over the bar, although the green laser shone on his face must have had an effect. This comes after missing the chance to even take a penalty in the AFCON final having opted to be his side’s fifth taker.
The latter, meanwhile, took his penalty with supreme confidence, just like he did back in February. He can now look forward to leading his proud nation at the world’s biggest stage this winter.
MAN OF THE MATCH – SADIO MANE (SENEGAL)
Twice created glorious chances for Ismaila Sarr only for his team mate to fail the find the back of the net. He may not be Senegal’s captain but Mane led by example, making those trademark driving runs, carving the defence open with his vision and beautiful execution, constantly geeing the raucous crowd up.
Senegal: E Mendy 6, Cisse 7, Koulibaly 6, Ciss 6, Sabaly 6, N Mendy 6, I Gueye 7, I Sarr 6, B Sarr 6, Mane 8*, Dia 7.. subs: Kouyate 5, P Gueye 5, Dieng 5, P Sarr N/A
Egypt: El Shenawy 8, Fatouh 7, Rabia N/A, Ibrahim 6, Gaber N/A, Fathy 6, El Soulia 6, Elneny 5, Trezeguet 6, Salah 6, Marmoush 5.. subs: Sayed 5, Mohamed 5, Dounga 5, Ashour 6, Ashraf 6, Alaa N/A
4′ – GOAL! SENEGAL 1-0 EGYPT (BOULAYE DIA) – 1-1 ON AGGREGATE! Senegal are ahead on the night! It’s a scrappy, scrappy goal from the resulting free-kick, Egypt fail to clear their lines from Gueye’s deep cross and Dia is in the right place at the right time to bundle it over the line!
72′- CLOSE! Egypt’s best chance of the night! Salah floats in a delicious cross, Sayed has pulled away from his marker but fails to make the goalkeeper work as his header drifts narrowly wide of the far post!
82′ – HOW DOES HE NOT SCORE?! Mane’s perfectly weighted pass releases Ismaila Sarr, who is played onside and only has the goalkeeper to beat. However, he loses his nerve and sends his shot wide of the far post! Will Senegal get a better chance?
96′ – ANOTHER BIG CHANCE FOR SENEGAL GOES BEGGING! At the far post Ismaila Sarr is seemingly set up on a plate for a tap-in by Mane – it looks easier to score than miss but his shot is central and somehow El Shenawy keeps it out!
104′ – DOUBLE SAVE! El-Shenawy is almost keeping Senegal at bay single handedly! Cisse gets a shot away on the turn, but the Egyptian goalkeeper parries it before gathering himself quickly to keep out Cisse’s rebound!
PENALTIES – SALAH MISSES! 0-0: Unbelievable! Egypt’s skipper blazes it over the top! It’s not even close!
PENALTIES – GOAL! SENEGAL 3-1 EGYPT: Mane keeps his cool and drills the penalty past El Shenawy! SENEGAL ARE GOING TO THE WORLD CUP!