Egypt advanced to the next round of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on penalties, sending Ivory Coast crashing out of the tournament, whilst securing their third consecutive victory heading into the quarter-finals.
After a minute’s silence was held to pay respects to the lives lost at Olembé Stadium a couple of days ago, the hotly anticipated last-16 clash between two former AFCON winners started in electric fashion. Franck Kessié fired a low attempt wide of the post from 20 yards out in the 3rd minute, as the Ivorians had Egypt on the back foot early on. The ‘Pharaohs’, however, rattled the crossbar in the 16th minute as Omar Marmoush walloped an audacious attempt from long range, as the 45th-placed FIFA ranked nation looked to get a foothold in the fixture.
Turning up the temperature, Mohamed Salah attempted to increase Egypt’s two-goal tally at the tournament by unleashing a volley from the edge of the area following some excellent build-up play, but Badra Ali Sangaré superbly tipped his effort over the bar. Ivory Coast thought they’d taken the lead before the break when an unmarked Ibrahim Sangaré attempted a spectacular volley inside the box, but the ball was directed straight at the goalkeeper, who palmed away.
The game was finely poised after HT, as both sides found dominant spells with the ball, but neither could find that crucial breakthrough to propel themselves ahead. As the game continued to play out, you could sense it was going to take something really special to steal the victory. It took until the 70th minute for Sébastien Haller to test the goalkeeper in the second half, as he headed towards goal from a set-piece, forcing a stunning save from Mohamed El Shenawy.
The final 10 minutes saw ‘Les Éléphants’ in control, as El Shenawy was tested again by Wilfried Zaha, before the goalkeeper was taken off through injury as the game headed to extra time. However, despite the extra 30 minutes, neither side could find the answer to book their place in the quarter-finals. In the end, it came down to penalties, with Eric Bailly missing a crucial spot-kick, allowing Salah to seal the win. The result sees Egypt triumph 5-4 in the shootout to advance and face Morocco on Sunday in Yaoundé.