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Egypt keep calm to eliminate Ivory Coast on penalties

One save was all that was needed from Egypt substitute goalkeeper Mohamed “Gabaski” Abou Gabal as the Pharaohs converted all of their penalty kicks to knock out Ivory Coast and move on to the quarterfinals of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations following a 0-0 draw. Mohamed Salah converted the winning spot kick for Egypt, who will take on Morocco in an all-North Africa matchup.

The match was a battle between two talented sides with Egypt doing well to dull the Ivorian attack throughout the ninety minutes. The two best chances in the opening twenty minutes fell the way of the Pharaohs. Omar Marmoush took advantage of a dangerous turnover from Ivorian center back Simon Deli and lined up a curling shot from distance that went off the crossbar. Soon after Salah threatened after receiving a pass from Amr El Solia, but his shot was tipped over by Ivory Coast keeper Badra Ali Sangaré.

Ivory Coast were dealt a blow in the 30th minute when Franck Kessié was forced off due to injury, but gradually got their attack more involved as the match progressed. The 39th minute saw the best first half opportunity for the Elephants when Nicolas Pépé chipped a well-placed pass to find Ibrahim Sangaré, whose side volley was well kept out by Egyptian starting goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy.

Egypt continued to look threatening after the break, however, and El Solia had plenty of time to line up a shot from the corner of the penalty area before missing after Salah set up the Al Ahly midfielder. The Ivorians had several opportunities in the final twenty minutes of regulation, forcing multiple saves from El Shenawy including an acrobatic effort to deny a header from striker Sebastien Haller in the 70th minute. Injury would force El Shenawy off in the closing minutes for 32-year-old Zamalek goalkeeper Gabaski, who stepped in for only his fourth appearance for Egypt.

The match went into extra time with neither team able to find the match-winning moment. Gabaski saved a curling shot from Ibrahim Sangaré in the 104th minute but opportunities were sparse in extra time, requiring a penalty shootout. Both teams mostly gave the goalkeepers little chance on their attempts, but it was Ivory Coast’s third penalty that provided the crucial moment. Manchester United center back Eric Bailly stepped up for Ivory Coast but following a short run up, Gabaski read his kick well and tipped the ball off the crossbar and out. Two rounds later it was Salah who kept his cool under the pressure to send Badra Sangaré the wrong way and win the match for Egypt.

Highlights from the penalty kick shootout are below.

Match Highlights

Full Penalty Kick Shootout

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