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Saturday, 17 November 2018

Egypt start Aguirre reign with 6-0 win over Niger in Nations Cup qualifiers

Hatem Maher , Saturday 8 Sep 2018
Salah
Soccer Football - African Nations Cup Qualifier - Egypt v Niger - Borg El Arab Stadium, Alexandria, Egypt - September 8, 2018 Egypt's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring their third goal with team mates REUTERS
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Egypt turned on the style in their first match under Javier Aguirre, recording a comprehensive 6-0 home win over Niger in a one-sided African Nations qualifier on Saturday that saw Liverpool's Mohamed Salah score twice.

In an action-packed affair at Alexandria's Borg El-Arab Stadium, Salah wasted two penalties but scored from the rebound in one of them before completing a personal brace with five minutes remaining, thanks to a close-range header.

The 26-year-old, who has recently fallen out with the Egyptian Football Association after reigniting a row over image rights, also created two other goals as the Pharaohs ran riot to give Mexican coach Aguirre a winning start.

Striker Marwan Mohsen, left-back Ayman Ashraf and substitute Salah Mohsen - who all play for Cairo giants Ahly - as well as Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny were also on target to give Egypt their first competitive win since their dramatic 2-1 victory over Congo in October last year, which lifted them to their first World Cup finals in 28 years.   

Egypt moved joint top with Tunisia on top of Group J with three points each but the Carthage Eagles could move three points clear if they beat Swaziland (one point) on Sunday. The top two will qualify for next year's Nations Cup in Cameroon. 

Much-changed

A much-changed Egypt side, adopting an attacking strategy that stands in stark contrast to the cautious schemes of former boss Hector Cuper, featured a three-man defence marshaled by Aly Ghazal, a Canada-based versatile defender who made his first international appearance in four years.

Ismaily defender Baher El-Mohamadi and Ahly's Salah Mohsen also made their debuts while Aston Villa's Ahmed Elmohamady, who wore the captain's armband, replaced long-serving full-back Ahmed Fathi on the right flank.  

Ghazal was tasked with making inroads into midfield as Egypt pressed for an early goal, with the backline sending numerous long balls behind an advanced Niger defence that was breached far too easily.

The crowd had barely taken their seats when Salah was felled in the area after collecting a pass from Elneny in the first minute. However, Niger keeper Kassaly Daouda dived the right way and produced a fine one-handed save to block the spot-kick.

But it was only a matter of time before Egypt opened the scoring, with Salah finding the unmarked Marwan Mohsen whose original attempt to control the ball saw it almost slip away. But with Daouda too slow to react, the Ahly man redeemed himself to send a delicate volley into the bottom corner on 13 minutes.

Turkish-based winger Mahmoud Trezeguet missed the target with the goal at his mercy but left-back Ashraf quickly made it 2-0 after 20 minutes in bizarre fashion.

His left-wing cross eluded Daouda and was headed straight back to his path by defender Mahamadou Souley to find an empty net with an angled, sliding effort from the edge of the area.

Salah ended the match as a contest with a third goal nine minutes later, slotting home on the rebound after another spot-kick was saved by Daouda.

Egypt had two strong claims for penalties waved away by the referee as they launched a wave after wave of attacks.

They eased off a bit in the early stages of the second half though, with Niger creating rare chances including a low shot from Youssouf Oumarou that narrowly missed the target.

But Egypt quickly re-asserted their dominance, adding a fourth in the 73rd minute when substitute Salah Mohsen fed Salah before running onto the return pass to send an angled shot into the far bottom corner.

Salah turned from provider to scorer on 85 minutes, heading home from an inviting cross from Elmohamady before Elneny completed the rout with a deflected shot in stoppage time.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

 
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