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London 2012: Egypt through to Olympic football quarters for first time since 1984

Egypt's football team beat Belarus 3-1 to qualify for the London Games quarter-finals after finishing second in Group C

Hatem Maher, Wednesday 1 Aug 2012
Mohamed Salah
Egypt's Mohamed Salah (R) is carried by teammate Ahmed Hegazi as he celebrates his goal during their men's first round Group C preliminary soccer match against Belarus (Photo: Reuters)
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Egypt scored three second-half goals to defeat Belarus 3-1 and reach the Olympic Games quarterfinals for the first time since 1984 on Wednesday.

A dour first half ended goalless but Egypt, who had no option but to win to go through, roared back in the second period to end the resistance of Belarus and finish second in Group C with four points, five behind leaders Brazil who beat New Zealand 3-0.

In-form winger Mohamed Salah put Egypt ahead 11 minutes after the restart to take his tally to three goals in as many games, on level with Honduras' Jerry Bengston and Senegal's Moussa Konate on top of the scorers' chart.

Goals from substitute Marwan Mohsen and veteran playmaker Mohamed Abou-Treika put the result beyond doubt before Belarus' Andrei Voronkov notched up a late consolation.

Egypt, who were eliminated by Italy the last time they made a quarterfinal appearance at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, will face the winners of Group D. Japan lie on top with six points, two ahead of Honduras with one game to spare. 

However, they are likely to miss Abou-Treika, who scored two goals so far, in the last-eight clash as he is due to return to Cairo to join up with Ahly ahead of an African Champions League clash against Ghana's Chelsea next week.

Dull half

Chances were few and far between in a dull first half, with Belarus defending in numbers to salvage a draw and go through.

Egypt dominated possession but struggled to create clear-cut chances. Lone striker Emad Meteb often found himself isolated while several crosses from lively right-back Ahmed Fathi went begging.

Meteb, who was guilty of spurning a golden opportunity in stoppage time in the 1-1 draw with New Zealand, had a half chance after 27 minutes when his looping header was tipped over by Belarus keeper.

Salah also sent a curling shot wide from inside the area just before the break.

Egypt coach Hany Ramzy introduced striker Mohsen in the second half to partner Meteb upfront and pile on more pressure on Belarus, who seemed content to sit back.

The Pharaohs' pressure paid off on 56 minutes when a trademark superb long ball from Abou-Treika released Salah, who neatly controlled the ball despite being under pressure before placing a precise shot into the bottom corner from inside the area.

Egypt keeper Ahmed El-Shennawy made a superb reflex save to deny a powerful shot few minutes later in a rare foray by Belarus.

Mohsen finished off a swift counter attack to double the team's advantage in the 73rd minute.

Left-back Eslam Ramadan ran onto a threaded Abou-Treika pass on the left before sending in a low cross for Petrojet frontman Mohsen to fire home from close range.

Abou-Treika crowned his efforts with a third goal 11 minutes from time, slotting the ball into an empty net after being fed by darting full-back Omar Gaber, who came on as a second-half substitute.

Aleksievich pulled one back for Belarus with a header in the 87th minute but it was too little, too late as Egypt booked a last-eight berth.

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