Sadio Mané scored the winning penalty that saw Senegal beat Egypt 4-2 on penalties and claim the first Africa Cup of Nations in their history after a 0-0 draw.
In a match presented as a duel between Liverpool strikers, Senegalese Mané and Egyptian captain Mohamed Salah, it was the first who had the decisive word.
The city of Dakar exploded with joy. Horns sound and people run through the streets cheering, crying and hugging.
The Liverpool striker had taken a seventh-minute penalty that was saved by Egyptian goalkeeper Gabaski, but Mane held on when he came back in the penalty shootout.
Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy fended off Mohanad Lasheen’s shot to give Mané the chance to take the win at Yaoundé’s Olembe Stadium.
Gabaski had made three good saves on the Senegalese Bamba Dieng in extra time.
Egypt’s four knockout ties were played end to end, and the North Africans beat Ivory Coast and Cameroon on penalties en route to the final.
Gabaski had already saved four penalties in the tournament at the time of the penalty shootout, but this time around the 33-year-old couldn’t come out on top.
Egypt were the first to go wrong when centre-back Mohamed Abdelmonem saw his penalty hit the left post and bounce off, but Gabaski immediately sent Bouna Sarr away.
Pharaohs captain Mohamed Salah didn’t even have the chance to take a penalty, which would have allowed him to score his team’s fifth goal.
Senegal had already lost two Nations Cup finals, finishing runners-up in 2002 and 2019.
The two teams will meet in March in a two-legged play-off for a place at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Redemption for Cissé
Senegal have been Africa’s highest-ranked team for three years under Aliou Cissé, who as a player missed a crucial penalty in the 2002 final defeat and was on the bench. touch in the defeat three years ago.
Mané was instrumental in the team’s historic success in Cameroon, with three goals and two assists.
By contrast, Salah’s influence waned as the competition wore on and he ended up on the losing side for the second time in a Nations Cup final, having been part of the Egyptian side beaten by Cameroon in 2017.
The next CAN should take place in Côte d’Ivoire in June and July next year.
The Teranga Lions have finally ended their wait to lift the trophy after an extended presentation which saw captain Kalidou Koulibaly ascend to the VIP box in the stands alongside Confederation of African Football President Patrice Motsepe and President of Fifa Gianni Infantino to greet Cameroonian President Paul Biya.