Sadio Mane made up for an earlier penalty miss with the decisive spot-kick as Senegal claimed their first Africa Cup of Nations title with a 4-2 shoot-out win over Egypt.
The Lions of Teranga were beaten in the 2019 final by Algeria, but they belatedly got their hands on the trophy at Olembe Stadium on Sunday with a dramatic shoot-out victory after a largely dour goalless 120 minutes.
Mane saw an early penalty saved by Mohamed Abou Gabal and he was fortunate to still be on the pitch for the spot-kicks having avoided a second yellow card for a clear dive.
The Liverpool forward had the last laugh, though, powering low past Abou Gabal after Edouard Mendy had kept out Mohanad Lasheen’s tepid effort from 12 yards to send the travelling Senegal fans into raptures.
Mane squandered a golden opportunity to give Senegal a seventh-minute lead, Abou Gabal keeping out his powerful spot-kick after Mohamed Abdelmonem had brought down Saliou Ciss inside the penalty area.
Mohamed Salah burst into life shortly before the interval, the Liverpool star forcing Mendy into a smart save at his near post with a powerful left-foot strike, while Cheikhou Kouyate flashed wide from long distance at the other end.
Abdelmonem and Marwan Hamdy both missed the target with headers shortly after the midway point of the second half as Egypt cranked up the pressure, although they failed to prevent the game from going to extra time.
Abou Gabal denied Bamba Dieng on three occasions during the additional time, while Mendy pushed over Hamdy’s powerful strike in the dying stages.
Abdelmonem and Bouna Sarr exchanged penalty misses early on in the shoot-out, before Mendy’s save from Lasheen gave Mane the chance to complete his redemption, which he did in emphatic style.
What does it mean? Senegal’s dominance rewarded
Few would disagree that Senegal deserved to win their first title and deny Egypt a record-extending eighth triumph.
Aliou Cisse’s men had 13 shots to their opponents’ seven, enjoyed 57.3 per cent of the possession and finished the game with an xG of almost a goal greater than the Pharaohs (1.70 v 0.76).
Captain Kalidou Koulibaly led by example at the back for Senegal. The Napoli defender attempted 97 passes – the highest total for a player in this year’s competition – while no player on the pitch won possession more times than him (15).
Salah’s spot-kick frustration
Questions will be asked about Egypt’s decision to leave Salah until last in the shoot-out. Lasheen’s miss meant their talisman did not even have the chance to take a penalty, with the visibly distraught 29-year-old left to watch on helplessly while his Liverpool team-mate Mane basked in the glory of his own decisive spot-kick.
The two sides do battle again next month in an African qualifying play-off to reach the 2022 Qatar World Cup. Egypt host Senegal on March 22, with the return fixture taking place just six days later.