Veteran goalkeeper Essam El Hadary’s save from Bertrand Traore’s spot-kick allowed Egypt to beat Burkina Faso 4-3 on penalties on Wednesday as they secured their place in the Africa Cup of Nations final.
A tense semi-final in Libreville had ended 1-1 after 90 minutes and extra time, with Mohamed Salah’s superb 66th-minute opener for the Egyptians quickly cancelled out by Aristide Bance for Burkina Faso.
That goal was the first conceded by El Hadary in 653 minutes at the Cup of Nations going back to 2010.
Abdallah El Said missed Egypt’s first penalty in the shoot-out but El Hadary kept the Pharaohs in it when he saved from opposing goalkeeper Herve Koffi, and the 44-year-old veteran then denied Traore from the last kick.
For Egypt, the record seven-time champions of Africa, the win completes a remarkable journey all the way to the final in their first appearance in the tournament after a seven-year absence.
They will play Cameroon or Ghana in Gabon’s capital on Sunday as they look to reclaim a trophy they had won three times in a row between 2006 and 2010 before their fall from grace.
Cameroon and Ghana meet in Franceville in the second semi-final on Thursday.