Despite a massive performance from Mohamed El Shenawy, Senegal are going to the World Cup after beating Egypt 3-1 on penalties.
The match itself ended 1-0 after Senegal matched Egypt by scoring a goal in the fourth minute of the match. The Lions of Teranga then dominated the rest of the game but found El Shenawy an impassable roadblock.
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El Shenawy was an absolute colossus. For a man who missed Egypt’s sensational run to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations through injury and watched as his back-up Gabaski put in a string of iconic performances, El Shenawy took his chance to prove himself the no. 1.
El Shenawy performed with distinction in the first-leg but in the second, despite conceding after four minutes, he was somehow even better. An absolutely miraculous display as he dove around his goal to repel Senegal’s attacks, one double save late in the game was particularly outrageous as he looked flat out after the first save. How he got up to make the second save is anyone’s guess.
Making this all the more impressive was the fact that pulled this performance off under a veritable disco of green lights as the Senegalese fans spent the entire match bombarding him with laser pointers.
It was fitting, also, that once the game went down to penalties, his team-mates let him down. For a man who stood alone under a hail of green dots for 120 minutes, and even got hit by a water bottle thrown from the crowd, it’s a tragedy that Mohamed El Shenawy won’t go to the World Cup. Especially so because he left Egypt in such a great position in the shoot-out.
Mohamed Salah has made two career World Cup appearances and scored in both games:
⚽️ vs. Russia
⚽️ vs. Saudi Arabia
He'll be 34 when the 2026 tournament gets underway… pic.twitter.com/6JFVwFVw5f
— Squawka (@Squawka) March 29, 2022
El Shenawy’s intimidating presence forced Kalidou Koulibaly to put too much on his penalty and smash it off the bar, and then when Mohamed Salah shot over the bar, the goalkeeper again handed his country an advantage with a super stop from Saliou Ciss.
But again, Egypt wasted their chance as Zizo put it wide. And there you could almost see the confidence drain from El Shenawy, who got nowhere near the next two penalties as Senegal powered their way to victory thanks to Sadio Mané.
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That it all came down to penalties felt appropriate, given not only El Shenawy’s class but Senegal’s shot-shy nature. There’s no doubt that Senegal are the best team in Africa and, with a potent goalscorer, would be one of the strongest sides in the world.
But without that goalscorer (and Mané has to take up the role of playmaker with his nation so don’t expect him to do it) they will be cursed to flit chances away through a combination of poor technique and mental pressure.
2021 AFCON final
◉ Mendy saves a penalty
◉ Mané scores winning kick
2022 WC Play-off
◉ Mendy saves a penalty
◉ Mané scores winning kick pic.twitter.com/7xv989HCsf
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) March 29, 2022
Just look at Ismaila Sarr’s two misses, in a Watford shirt he buries those, but with the pressure of being Senegal’s star striker, he folded and scuffed two superb chances. Sure, he scored in the shoot-out, but Senegal need to win games within 90 minutes!
Senegal have added World Cup qualification to the Africa Cup of Nations they won earlier this year and will hope to crown 2022 with an impressive showing at the FIFA World Cup. And thanks to their shoot-out success, they have a chance!