It happened again! For the second time in a little over seven weeks, Sadio Mané has ruined Mohamed Salah’s night from the penalty spot, as Senegal eliminated Egypt from the World Cup Qualifiers on Tuesday.
The Pharaohs went into tonight’s game with a 1-0 lead following an early own goal and a resolute defensive performance in Cairo at the weekend, but that advantage was nullified three minutes into the second leg when Boulaye Dia poked home from close range after some chaos in the box following a free kick.
With neither side able to finish the game off in regulation or extra time — despite a number of hefty chances for both teams — it went to penalties, just as it did when the two sides faced off in the African Cup of Nations final back in early February.
Mohamed Salah elected to go first, unlike that day in Yaoundé, when the world’s best forward was placed as Egypt’s anchor man and didn’t even get to take a penalty as his country crashed out of the tournament, and while the 29-year old has looked remarkably assured from the spot in Liverpool Red this season, this time he was less so, rushing his run-up and blasting the ball over the bar.
Mo was not alone in that regard, however, as Senegal also missed their first two penalties, while Egypt missed three of the four they were granted. Once again, a fifth never came, because, just as in Cameroon, Sadio Mané stepped up as Senegal’s fifth man and battered the ball down the middle and into the back of the net, taking the Lions to the World Cup.
It deserves mention that fans in the Stade Me Abdoulaye Wade absolutely plastered Egypt’s players with green lasers throughout the game and penalty shootout, in a coordinated strategy that in all honesty should see the game halted or abandoned, and which the appropriate federations need to address before it takes hold as a trend.
At any rate, Mo and Sadio are both coming back to Merseyside now, one significantly happier than the other, though hopefully equally motivated to shoot Liverpool to the quadruple over the next two months.