Essam El Hadary celebrates after Egypt reached the Africa Cup of Nations final ©Getty Images

Veteran goalkeeper Essam El Hadary was the hero for Egypt today as they reached a record ninth Africa Cup of Nations final via a penalty shoot-out in the Gabon.

Their clash with Burkina Faso finished 1-1 after 120 minutes before the 44-year-old saved Bertrand Traore’s spot-kick to see the Pharaohs win 4-3 on penalties at the Stade de l’Amitie in Libreville.

Mohammed Salah had given Egypt the lead in the 66th minute with a lovely curled shot which Herve Koffi could not stop.

But this was cancelled out by striker Aristide Bance seven minutes later as he controlled a cross before hitting a neat volley, breaching the Egyptian defence for the first time in the tournament.

It proved to be a turgid match as the seven time champions played defensively, looking to soak up pressure against Burkina Faso, who reached the final in 2013.

Aristide Bance had levelled the semi-final in the 73 minute ©Getty Images
Aristide Bance had levelled the semi-final in the 73 minute ©Getty Images

Ultimately the game went to a shoot-out and stepping up first, Egypt’s Abdallah El Said saw his effort saved by Koffi, who palmed the ball onto the woodwork.

The next six kicks were successful before Koffi himself took a shot, but failed to beat El Hadary, who is the oldest player to feature in any Africa Cup of Nation competition.

Amr Warda converted Egypt’s fifth penalty and this put the pressure on Traore, who saw his kick saved to knock Burkina Faso out.

The result means Egypt have now won the last six semi-finals they have played in the tournament.

Tomorrow’s semi-final at the Stade de Franceville is between Cameroon and Ghana.

Whoever loses will face Burkina Faso in Saturday’s (February 4) third place play-off while the winner takes on Egypt on Sunday (February 5) in Libreville.