0624 GMT August 25, 2019
Salah scored both Egypt's goals, with the second from the penalty spot in the fourth minute of second-half injury time for a dramatic finish in front of a capacity crowd of 30,000 at a military stadium in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, The Telegraph reported.
Egypt finished top of Group E in African qualifying with a game to spare. A seven-time African champion and the continent's most successful team, Egypt last qualified for the World Cup in 1990 in Italy.
Salah broke the deadlock in the 63rd minute when he latched on to a through pass from midfielder Mohamed Elneny of Arsenal. Congo substitute Arnold Bouka Mouto drew level in the 86th minute with a ferocious left-footed volley that stunned Egypt's goalkeeper Essam el-Hadary.
Egypt substitute Mahmoud Hassan was brought down in the box two minutes into injury time and Salah restored Egypt's lead from the spot, using his left foot to find the back of the net and clinch Egypt's place in Russia next year.
After making his international debut in 1996, goalkeeper Hadary could make history in Russia next summer by becoming the oldest player to appear at a World Cup if he is selected by the Argentine coach Hector Cuper.
Colombia goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon is currently the oldest player to play at the World Cup – 43 in 2014 – but El Hadary, who turns 45 in the new year, appears poised to set a new record in Russia.
‘Childhood dream realized’
Salah reflected on “a dream come true” after firing Egypt to the finals.
“I can’t really express how I feel,” Salah told Ahram newspaper after the game.
“I don’t quite talk so much but I’m really proud. Today we realized a long-awaited dream.
“That was to me a dream come true, whether as a footballer or an Egyptian citizen and fan. I’m proud I made the Egyptians happy today by scoring today twice against Congo.
“The game was a difficult one tonight and all the qualifiers were difficult games as well, today there is no big difference between every team and the other.”
He added, “When I stepped up to take the penalty, I didn’t think of anything but scoring and winning the game.
“The most difficult moment in my life was when the fans fell silent following Congo’s equalizer but thank God we finally realized a childhood dream of my own.”
The win sent hundreds of thousands of fans across the country celebrating, honking car horns and waving Egypt's national flags.
In Cairo, an army helicopter dropped hundreds of Egyptian flags on thousands of fans gathered at the city's iconic Tahrir square.