Just when it seemed that Egypt's World Cup dreams would have to wait for a last Group E game away to Ghana in November after a late Congo equalizer from <span >Arnold Bouka Moutou sucked the air from the packed Borg El Arab stadium, the Egyptians were handed a lifeline with a 95th minute spot kick.
Nerves of steel
Rarely will the Liverpool player have felt such a sense of pressure with the conversion securing a first World Cup place for the North African nation since competing at Italia 90. Salah slammed the ball left footed into the corner of the net to ensure mayhem at the packed stadium.
It was Salah too who put the Pharaohs ahead during the second half in Alexandria before Bouka Moutou's late equaliser.
Victory gave Egypt an uncatchable four-point lead over Uganda in Group E with one round of fixtures remaining.
Egypt last qualified for the World Cup in 1990 with the record seven-time African champions suffering numerous heart-breaking failures since.
The desperation to qualify was so great ahead of the Congo match that Argentina-born Egypt coach Hector Cuper admitted he was taking medication for high blood pressure.
"I am taking hypertension medicine due to the stress I suffer from continuing criticism," he told reporters without specifying who his critics were. "Life is full of stress, but the challenge of reaching the World Cup is the toughest stress I have faced."
Egypt also beat Congo away and Ghana and Uganda at home to accumulate 12 points, with the only loss away to Uganda.