Carlos Queiroz’s men had endured three periods of extra time in Cameroon already and last played on Thursday. As the 90th-minute approached though neither side could put the game to bed in normal time after an evening of disjointed, stop-start play with Senegal growing increasingly frustrated by an unfair scoreline.
So a fourth stretch of extra time began for Egypt, with Senegal ruing missed chances as a gruelling 30 minutes of football unfolded.
As had become the story of the final Senegal again couldn’t take the lead despite promising chances, although they seemed to have broken through when Bamba Diang flashed a header at goal – Gabaski, who had a sensational game, blocked reflexively.
Penalties started to feel inevitable against a country which had won two shoot-outs already in this competition, though they’d have to wait for both ‘keepers to pull off crucial saves before being confirmed.
By the time the final did go to spot kicks, there had been just 11 efforts on target over 120 minutes.
After three successful efforts, two for Senegal and one for Egypt, Abdelmonem just struck the post before Bouna Sarr forced a save from Gabaski. The next to miss was Mohanad Lasheen, who struck low in the centre and directly into Edouard Mendy's path.
Mané, who missed a penalty to start the game, then had the title in his hands, stepping up for the fifth penalty and smashing it home - winning the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations for Senegal. Kouyaté burst onto the pitch to celebrate with his countrymen.
Earlier in the tournament Kouyaté helped his country reach the semi-finals with a substitute goal against Eqautorial Guinea, and played 65 minutes in their win over Burkina Faso.
Senegal, the highest-ranked African country in world football, trumped their opponents with goals from Liverpool's Sadio Mané and Paris Saint-Germain's Abdou Diallo and Idrissa Gueye, who developed through Patrick Vieira's Diambars Academy.
Kouyaté was one of three Palace players at AFCON, with Wilfried Zaha and Jordan Ayew also competing. Ayew’s Ghana were sent home in the group stage, and Zaha’s Ivory Coast fell out on penalties against Egypt in the round of 16.
With AFCON over for another edition, see how all three Palace players got on.
Fixtures and results
All times are UK time.
Ghana - Ayew
Morocco 1-0 Ghana (Ayew played 86 minutes alongside his brother Andre up-front)
Gabon 1-1 Ghana (Ayew started the game, and was substituted in injury time)
Ghana 2-3 Comoros (Ayew played the full 90 minutes up front)
Senegal - Kouyaté
Senegal 1-0 Zimbabwe (Kouyaté played match in the centre of midfield)
Senegal 0-0 Guinea (Kouyaté played match in the centre of midfield)
Malawi 0-0 Senegal (Kouyaté played the full 90 minutes in central midfield)
Ivory Coast - Zaha
Equatorial Guinea 0-1 Ivory Coast (Zaha replaced Maxwel Cornet in the 71st-minute)
Ivory Coast 2-2 Sierra Leone (Zaha earned an assist and won a penalty before being replaced in the 82nd-minute)
Ivory Coast 3-1 Algeria (Zaha came on after 85 minutes)
Round of 16
Tuesday, 25th: Senegal 2-0 Cape Verde (Kouyaté was not in the matchday squad)
Wednesday, 26th: Ivory Coast 0-0 (4-5) Egypt (Zaha came on in the 71st-minute and scored in the penalty shootout)
- Sunday, 30th January: Senegal 3-1 Equatorial Guinea (Kouyaté came on in the 65th-minute and scored the crucial second goal moments later)
- Wednesday, 2nd February: Burkina Faso 1-3 Senegal (Kouyaté played 65 minutes)
- 6th February: Senegal 0-0 (4-3) Egypt (Kouyaté played 65 minutes)