The Pharaohs of Egypt beat fierce North African rivals, Morocco, to the semi-final ticket 2-1 after extra time at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
After falling behind to an early goal from the penalty spot, Mohamed Salah got the equaliser for Egypt in the second half before the seven-time African kings went on to win the game in extra time through Mahmoud Trezeguet.
Salah also had a hand in the winning goal scored by Trezeguet in the 100th minute.
The Liverpool man got the better of Naif Aguerd before sending the ball across the six-yard box for Trezeguet to slot home into an empty net at the far post.
The Pharaohs will now face hosts, Cameroon, for a place in the final on Thursday, February 3, 2022.
Sunday’s penultimate quarter-final clash started on a dramatic note with Morocco winning a penalty kick barely five minutes into the game.
The Atlas Lions’ danger man Achraf Hakimi was the architect of that penalty.
Hakimi wriggled past a couple of Egyptian defenders before falling under a challenge from Ayman Ashraf.
The referee Maguette Ndiaye needed to consult VAR before making up his mind about giving the penalty.
When he finally did, Morocco made the most of the early chance as Sofiane Boufal sent keeper Abou-Gabal the wrong way from the spot to register the opening goal.
It wasn’t the kind of start Egypt hoped for and their initial response to the setback was not encouraging.
However, in the 20th minute, Ashraf tried to make amends for his penalty error; firing a shot that stung the palm of Morocco keeper Yassine Bounou for Egypt’s first real effort.
As the Pharaohs gradually grew into the game and were bossing the possession, they almost conceded a second goal in the 30th minute when Elneny committed a foul and Hakimi’s free-kick was just inches off the target.
In the 34th minute, Morocco’s Selim Amallah got the first Yellow card after he was booked for a foul on Omar Kamal.
The Lions were tactical enough to hold on to their early advantage as the first half ended 1-0 in their favour.
Egypt made their first substitution at the resumption of the second half as injured defender Hegazi made way for midfielder Mahmoud Trezeguet.
The Pharaohs understandably started on the front foot as they pressed for an equaliser.
After coming close on one or two occasions, Salah gave Egypt a deserved equaliser in the 53rd minute.
The Liverpool man fired home on the rebound after a header by defender Mohamed Abdel-Moneim was parried by the Morocco keeper into his path.
That was Salah’s second goal of the tournament after he also netted against Guinea-Bissau in the group stage.
With the game now even, both sides upped the ante looking to win the clash inside 90 minutes.
However, fantastic goalkeeping from both ends meant the game will extend into extra time.
The Egypt goalkeeper Abou-Gabal was injured in the dying stages of the second half but carried on despite being visibly in painAdvertisements
It was Egypt who continued from where they stopped with barrages of attack as the extra time commenced.
Their pressure paid off in the 100th minute when Salah got the better of Naif Aguerd before sending the ball across the six-yard box for Trezeguet to slot home into an empty net at the far post.
Hard as Morocco tried, they were unable to get back as their Afcon trophy drought which dates back to 1976 was extended yet again while Egypt stay on course for an eighth title. (PREMIUM TIMES)