And then there were four, three a bit more familiar than the other.
Mohamed Salah powered Egypt to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations semifinal where the Pharoahs will have to take down hosts Cameroon in order to play for AFCON glory, perhaps against a Liverpool pal.
That’s because Sadio Mane and Senegal held off the challenge of underdogs Equatorial Guinea and will meet the next Cinderella story of the tournament: Burkina Faso.
In Salah’s case, who knows? Winning the tournament could be the difference between a Ballon d’Or and another finalist’s podium.
They don’t do podiums but you get the point. Heady times in Africa.
Special Salah lifts extra-time Egypt
The Pharoahs had plenty of work to do in order to dispatch Morocco, going down 1-0 early when Sofiane Boufal converted an Achraf Hakimi-won penalty.
But Salah scored seven minutes after halftime and set up Trezeguet’s 100th-minute winner as Premier League names came up big on Sunday.
Now Egypt will meet the last team to deprive it of an AFCON title: Cameroon, who beat the Pharoahs 2-1 at Gabon 2017.
Senegal two wins from triumph on home soil
Premier League stars played a hand in each of the goals for the victors as Senegal beat Equatorial Guinea 3-1 to advance to the semifinal.
Sadio Mane of Liverpool set up the first goal, Crystal Palace’s Cheikhou Kouyate made it 2-1 in the second half, and Watford’s Ismaila Sarr salted away the win in the 79th minute.
Jannick Buyla scored Equatorial Guinea’s lone goal in the loss, leaving the game on level terms for 11 second-half minutes.
Senegal is now two wins from sweet relief following a 1-0 loss to Algeria in the 2019 final. Can it get past (relative) surprise package Burkina Faso?
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AFCON wrap: Salah, Mane star as Egypt and Senegal seal semi berths originally appeared on NBCSports.com