The Teranga Lions are African champions for the first time in their history after seeing off Egypt in an intriguing final
Senegal lifted the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations title after beating Egypt 4-2 on penalties in Sunday’s final at the Olembe Stadium.
It was a goalless affair after 120 minutes of football at the Olembe Stadium despite Senegal’s dominance although spot-kicks were ultimately necessary to split the teams.
The Teranga Lions overcame the 2019 disappointment in Egypt to claim their first Afcon title in their third final appearance.
In the absence of suspended head coach Carlos Queiroz, former Egypt U20 coach Diaa El Sayed took over coaching duty and Emam Ashour was the only change made to the Pharaohs’ starting XI that defeated Cameroon in the semi-final.
Senegal, on the other hand, handed Watford winger Ismaila Sarr his maiden start in the tournament and his presence contributed to the attacking dominance of Aliou Cisse’s men.
The Teranga Lions started their push for an opener early in the encounter and it resulted in a penalty after Mohamed Abdelmonem brought down Saliou Ciss in the fourth minute.
The Egypt defender got the first yellow card of the game and Sadio Mane stepped forward to take the spot-kick but his shot was saved by goalkeeper Mohamed Abou Gabal.
The miss did not deter Senegal who kept on the pressure for an opening goal with Sarr’s run and creativity on the flanks, however, the 23-year-old’s crosses were not converted.
Egypt had their first shot on target in the 43rd minute as Salah forced Edouard Mendy to make save with his right-footed shot inside the box.
The first half ended with Senegal’s dominance and it continued after the break with Mane winning a free-kick on the edge of the box but Idrissa Gueye’s effort went wide off target in the 48th minute.
Cisse switched his attacking tactics and drafted fresh legs up front with Bamba Dieng and Boulaye Dia replacing Famara Diedhiou and Sarr in the 77th minute.
Aliou Cisse’s men continued their dominance in extra-time and Dieng came close with a header but it was parried by Abou Gabal for corner-kick.
The Marseille striker had another attempt at goal with a superb shot from about 30 yards but it was saved by Gabaski again. It was Egypt’s turn to test Mendy in the 115th minute but the Chelsea goalkeeper palmed over Marwan Hamdy’s shot.
For Senegal, Koulibaly and Abdou Diallo stepped forward to convert the first two attempts in the penalty shoot-out but Egypt missed their second effort as Abdelmonem’s strike hit the upright.
Gabaski was called to action and he saved Bouna Sarr’s effort while Mendy comfortably saved Mohanad Lasheen’s shot and Mane stepped up to score the match-winning kick.