Egypt lose on penalties again as Senegal reach World Cup

Hatem Maher , Tuesday 29 Mar 2022

Egypt were once again haunted by a shootout against Senegal, losing 3-1 on penalties following a 1-1 aggregate draw on Tuesday to miss out on a World Cup spot as the reigning African champions pipped them to a place in Qatar.

Senegal players celebrate a goal scored by teammate Idrissa Gana Gueye, during the World Cup 2022 - Africa playoff soccer match between Senegal and Egypt at at Stade Me Abdoulaye Wade stadium in Dakar, Senegal, Tuesday, March 29, 2022. AP

Sadio Mane, just like he did in last month's Nations Cup final in Cameroon, converted the winning penalty with a powerful shot down the middle to spark jubilant scenes at the new 50,000-seater Abdoulaye Wade Stadium near the capital Dakar.

Egypt's spot-kick specialists Mohamed Salah and Ahmed Zizo astonishingly missed the team's first two efforts, failing to capitalize on equally opening misses from Senegal's Kalidou Koulibaly and Saliou Ciss.

Another wasted kick from Egypt striker Mostafa Mohamed, who saw his tame shot come off the outstretched legs of Edouard Mendy, condemned the Pharaohs to a cruel loss as they failed to make back-to-back World Cup appearances for the first time.

Several Egypt players wept following the final whistle, with Mane upstaging the subdued Salah once again in another eye-catching duel between the Liverpool teammates.

In a scenario similar to Egypt's 1-0 first-leg win in Cairo, striker Boulaye Dia bundled home the opener from four yards out early on after a free-kick was met with a half-hearted defensive clearance.

A physical game then unfolded, with both sides struggling to string passes together in a first half low on quality.

Egypt vastly improved after the break, threatening on several occasions although Senegal's Ismaila Sarr also spurned a glorious chance for the hosts.

Senegal were in control in extra time as Egypt were indebted to goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shennawi for denying some near-certain goals, with Mane and Sarr wreaking havoc down both flanks.

Early goal

After Ciss's early own goal gave Egypt a first-leg advantage on Friday, it was Senegal's turn to also find the net after four minutes as the passionate home fans, who occasionally threw bottles onto the pitch, were in delirium.

A free-kick was floated to the far post, where a poor headed clearance by left-back Ahmed Fattouh fell to Villarreal striker Dia to drill home off El-Shennawi from close range.

It was then a scrappy and tense affair as too many fouls and some flying tackles disrupted the flow of the game and cost Egypt two substitutions, with central defender Rabia making way for Ahly teammate Ayman Ashraf and right-back Omar Gaber replaced for natural central midfielder Emam Ashour.

Egypt's long balls were easily dealt with by Senegal's rearguard, which had a torrid time in the second half nevertheless.

A triple substitution paid off as Egypt were reinvigorated, with Zamalek winger Zizo in particular unsettling Senegal's defence with his pace and trickery.

Egypt had three chances to sucker-punch Senegal, who were on the back foot for most of the second half.

On 51 minutes, Mahmoud Trezeguet was foiled by Chelsea keeper Mendy on the left hand side of the area after a threaded pass from Salah while Zizo could have scored with his first effort after coming on, leaping above his marker and heading just wide following an inswinging cross from Salah on 71 minutes.

Zizo threatened again a few minutes later after cutting inside from the left, his low shot narrowly missing the target.

But the second half's best chance came at the other end, with Sarr missing a sitter eight minutes from time when he broke clear and beat the offside trap following a defence-splitting pass from Mane, only to drag his shot wide with the goal at his mercy.

Senegal then pinned Egypt into their own half in the first half of extra time and could have settled the tie in their favour had it not been for El-Shennawi.

The towering Ahly goalie tipped over a header from Pape Abou Cisse and made a superb reflex save to thwart a goal-bound shot from Sarr after Mane had found them unmarked with a couple of inviting crosses.

The shootout marked a fitting end, with Salah blasting his effort high over and Mane stealing the show with a composed kick.

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