AFCON 2017 Hadary the hero as Egypt equal Ghana record of nine finals

The Egyptians saw off Burkina Faso 4-3 on penalties in an entertaining semi final in Libreville

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play Essam El Hadary - the hero as Egypt reached the final of AFCON 2017
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Egypt reached a record equalling 9th African Cup of Nations (AFCON) final on Wednesday night when they beat Burkina Faso 4-3 in a dramatic shootout in the first semi final of AFCON 2017 in Libreville.

The seven-time champions' 44-year-old goalkeeper and captain Essam El Hadary was the hero with two saves from the spot as the North African nation booked a place in Sunday's final, with a date against either Cameroon or Ghana - their opponents in the 2008 and 2010 finals respectively.

It was heartbreak for Paulo Duarte's less-fancied Burkina Faso men who overcame their underdog tag to become landlords over the course of the game, turning Hector Cuper's Egypt into submissive tenants throughout the 120 minutes at the Stade de l'Amitie.

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After the West African side exercised dominance over the entire first half and early parts of the second, the Egyptians took the lead against the run of play on 66 minutes, when star striker Mohammed Salah curled in a beauty to register his second goal of the tournament. The 24-year-old Roma man had been set up nicely by teammate Mahmoud Kahraba just on the edge of the box to send the ball beyond the reach of young Burkina keeper Herve Koffi.

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But, just nine minutes later, Burkina Faso deservedly pulled even following wave after wave of attack. Right back Steeve Yaago did well to keep the ball in play on the Egyptian goalline following an attack on the right, backheeling the ball to his captain Charles Kabore, whose brilliantly measured cross found targetman Aristide Bance.

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The 32-year-old Bance, a player of immense popularity across the continent, took the ball down with his chest, barely allowing it to drop while lashing it in for the equalizer - a goal which broke records, being Egypt's first conceded at this tournament and the first conceded by Hadary in almost 10 hours of AFCON football.

READ MORE: AFCON 2017 Ghana vs Cameroon in numbers

Hadary would go on to prove why he had shut out many teams for such a long time, making two impressively athletic late saves to deny Bance (from a freekick) and Banou Diawara.

play Aristide Bance (R) of Burkina Faso against Egypt

 

The Stallions continued to control the game into extra time, playing some delightful attacking football football that defied fatigue, but the industry of the likes of Bertrand Traore, Prejuce Nakoulma and Bance fell short of fetching a winner.

They would go on to regret it by the time the lottery of 12 yards were done.

Herve Koffi, Burkina Faso's 20-year old goalkeeper, was an early hero in the shootouts after saving Egypt's first from Abdallah El Said, but he would go on to miss his side's fourth kick, handing the Pharoahs a way back into the tie - an opportunity they made full use of, pulling even via Mohammed Salah and going ahead through Amr Warda.

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In the end, it was Hadary, the legend, who followed up that save from Koffi's penalty with another crucial stop to deny Betrand Traore - Burkina Faso's final penalty taker - to hand Egypt yet another AFCON final on their return to African football's biggest stage for the first time since 2010.

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