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Senegal beat Egypt on penalties to win Africa Cup of Nations final

Senegal defeated Egypt 4-2 on penalties in Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations final after the sides couldn’t be separated over 120 minutes of goalless football. Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy saved Egypt’s fourth penalty to hand Senegal the advantage, and Liverpool talisman Sadio Mane converted the winning spot kick.

In a match billed as a battle between Liverpool forwards Mane, of Senegal, and Egypt captain Mohamed Salah, it was the former who had the decisive word. The triumph marked Senegal’s first AFCON trophy.

The drama of the final began unfolding immediately, when Egypt centre-back Mohamed Abdelmonem conceded a penalty just four minutes into the contest. Goalkeeper Mohamed Abougabal would atone for his defender’s error, though, saving Mane’s effort from the spot to keep the game scoreless.

It would remain that way throughout the 90 minutes. Abougabal made five saves in normal time, with Mendy adding two of his own, as the match headed into extra time at 0-0.

After an additional half hour went scoreless to bring on the shootout, another Abdelmonem mistake almost proved costly for Egypt. In the second round of shooters, the 23-year-old Al Ahly player struck the woodwork, handing the advantage to Senegal. But Abougabal would again come to his team’s rescue, saving Bouna Sarr’s effort in the third round, after which Marwan Hamdy’s conversion put the sides on equal footing once more.

In the fourth round, 2022 FIFA The Best award winner Mendy changed the course of the game, saving Mohanad Lasheen’s effort to put Senegal in front once more. Finally, some 2 hours and 40 minutes after having his first-half penalty saved, Mane returned to the spot and slotted home the winner to make Senegal African champions.

After two previous final defeats in 2002 and 2019, Senegal are Africa Cup of Nations winners at last, while Egypt missed out on a record-extending eighth continental crown that would also have been a first for Salah.

“It just shows that if you work hard, if you persevere, you will get what you want,” Senegal coach Aliou Cisse said.

“I am very emotional because the people of Senegal have wanted this trophy for 60 years.”

“It was a long match, and our boys are very tired,” said Egypt assistant coach Diyaa El-Sayed, standing in for suspended Carlos Queiroz.

“It’s the fourth we’ve played for 120 minutes, and I want to thank the guys for their performance.

“I also want to congratulate Senegal for winning the cup.

“We want to apologise to the Egyptian population, but our boys played well, they put in a lot of effort. This is football.”

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