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Mane, Mendy heroes as Senegal defeat Egypt to win AFCON

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The Touchline Sports - Mane, Mendy heroes as Senegal defeat Egypt to win AFCON

Egypt are already the most successful side in AFCON history, having won the tournament on seven occasions, though not since the last of a straight hat-trick of wins in 2010.

They faced a Senegal that had never won the title at the tournament a failing that had earned them the unwanted tag of African football’s great underachievers.

This changed tonight as Sadio Mane scored the winning spot-kick for Senegal who claimed a first ever Africa Cup of Nations title with a 4-2 penalty shootout victory over seven-time winners Egypt following a 0-0 draw in the decider in Yaounde on Sunday.

Mane had been given the chance to open the scoring inside ten minutes when Mohamed Abdelmonem slid in with a rash challenge on full-back Saliou Ciss but Egypt goalkeeper Gabaski, the hero of their semi-final shootout win over Cameroon, kept out the forward’s effort.

Gabaski was named man of the match as he kept Senegal at bay throughout a scrappy 90 minutes and then produced an excellent save to deny substitute Bamba Dieng in extra-time.

But his efforts would prove in vain as Mane made amends for his earlier miss by thundering home the winning spot-kick. Egypt had once again held Salah back for the fifth penalty, but the shootout did not get that far.

Into the game;

First half

A few minute into the the action you could sense Mohamed Abdelmonem was going to have to do plenty of covering from centre-back to help out Emam Ashour and he did exactly that here, getting across to muscle Mane out to earn a goal-kick.

But seconds later it all changed when Ashour was beaten to the ball out wide by Saliou Ciss, who charged into the box drawing Abdelmonem closer to slide in and got none of the ball but loads of the man and it was an absolute stone-waller.

Two minutes later, Mane was put off by the idea that Salah had told the Gabaski where he likes to go hence opting for power to the right of centre but the keeper guessed right and denied him the chance.

That save didn’t detract the fact that Senegal had made an excellent start. Egypt were on the back foot, as they were for pretty much the whole of the first half against Cameroon in their semi-final.

Edouard Mendy’s got his first bit of work 13 minutes into the game night in a pretty straight forward try to catch Senegal with a quick free-kick to the back post but Hamdy’s header was loopy and the Chelsea keeper plucked it out of the sky with ease.

But but there was more Senegal pressure with Ciss playing pretty much as a left-winger which resulted Mane and Ismaila Sarr getting more of space to create more chances against the Pharoahs.

With two minutes to close the half, Egypt had one man upfront in Salah and he was playing them on his own in an attacking sense. He was jinking in off the right with no other red shirts within 30 yards going alone from a tight angle hence Mendy was also equal to it hence tipping the ball over the bar.

At the half time edge, a yellow card was issued out for the second time after Mohamed Abdelmonem first in the early stages. This time for Koulibaly, who led with the arm as he went up for a header in the middle of the park.

It didn’t stop there as given the ease with which the cards had been sliding out of the referee’s pocket we are stunned Ahmed Fattoh escaped one as he cynically ran across the back of Sarr to trip him on the counter being the last action that closed the opening half hence ending goalless at the break, but Senegal of course had that huge opportunity to up.

Two minutes after the second half resumed, Senegal were straight back on the attack with Mane driving to the edge of the box, where he was brought down but the resulting free kick was skyed up by Idrissa Gana.

Abdou Diallo was added to the list of names in the referee’s notebook as he absolutely clattered through the back of Salah six minutes away from the hour mark.

At the hour mark, There was a raft of Egyptian substitutions which didn’t help the flow of an already scrappy game. Penalty specialist Zizo was among those sent on and the way this is going, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he ended up taking another one by the time we were done.

Ten minutes later, The Pharaohs by a mile had their biggest chance of the game and it fell for Abdelmonem who looked to amend for the penalty after a cracking free-kick delivery from the left. The centre-half timed their his run perfectly but got too much on a free header when he just needed to glance it on.

Five minutes to the 90′, It was Dieng on the volley, an ambitious effort but unfortunately the ball was delivered behind him and he tried to hit it on the swivel but pang it miles into the stand.

Sadio Mane was shown a yellow card three minutes later for a late one on the toes of an Egyptian defender. He was another one who was lucky to escape a booking a little earlier on. There were three minutes added onto the 90′ to close a still goalless second-half.

Extra time.

A minute in extra time, Mane curved a wonderful pass in behind with the outside of his boot and Dieng got onto it. Two defenders were chasing back to force him wide and he had to fire it across Gubaski which he did but the ‘keeper got down to deny him.

The game went on in a stanted mood till the end of the first half of extra time. But the next big chance in with five minutes to end the second half of extra time and fell onto Dieng who turned and found a bit of space 30 yards out so he could take the opportunity to crack a superb effort at goal but Gabaski was there once again

With the Lions of Teranga in the driving pressure position, Ciss moved his man down the left and delivered a great ball to Dieng, who did everything right once again, powering down into the pitch and towards the far corner but the amazing Gabaski was across to palm it round the post.

With three minutes to end the game, It was Mendy’s turn to save the day as Hamdi wriggled half-a-yard on the edge and fired through the bodies for the Chelsea man to palm over.

At the end of the extras, It still ended as it started but all the teams still looked set for what ever was coming their way and indeed it was penalties.

Penalty time.

In that break, it looked like Gabaski had got some clues about the Senegal takers written on a water bottle which was a old Jens Lehmann trick.

After both teams had been deadlocked for normal time and extra-time, The game entered penalties where Egypt players – Abdelmonem and Ashin both miss their kicks.

Mane went on to steal the headlines but the Senegal team also got Edouard Mendy to thank too as he saved a kick to put the Teranga Lions ahead in shootout.

The Egyptians and Gabaski in particular were disappointed with the outcome of the shootout as their goalkeeper had saved Bouna Sarr’s penalty kick.

Disappointed Pharaohs will go on and try their luck to win their eighth AFCON title in the 2023 edition which will be hosted by Ivory Coast.

Jeremiah Mugalu

Mane strikes winner as Senegal win AFCON 2021

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