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Thursday, 18 January 2018

Mohamed Salah's key moments in 2017

Ahram Online looks back at the defining moments of Mohamed Salah's year after he won CAF's award for the African Player of the Year on Thursday

Hatem Maher , Friday 5 Jan 2018
Salah
Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah celebrating after scoring their seventh goal during the UEFA Champions League Group E football match between Liverpool and Spartak Moscow at Anfield in Liverpool, north-west England December 6, 2017 AFP
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African Nations Cup final (February)

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Cameroon's defender Ambroise Oyongo (L) vies for the ball against Egypt's forward Mohamed Salah during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations final between Egypt and Cameroon in Libreville on February 5, 2017. AFP

Mohamed Salah's early years with the Egyptian national team were largely disappointing but 2017 offered a remedy, with the winger exploding on the international stage to make history with the Pharaohs.

His first achievement of the year was playing an instrumental role in steering Egypt to a place in the Nations Cup final in Gabon after they could not even qualify for the previous three editions.

He scored twice and provided two assists as Egypt reached the final, only to lose to Cameroon to miss out on a record-extending eighth triumph.

Salah's two goals in the tournament were sublime. He gave Egypt a 1-0 group-stage victory over Ghana with a superbly-taken free kick and put them in front against Burkina Faso in the semi-final with an equally exquisite arrowed shot.

Fruitful season with AS Roma (May)

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Roma's Mohamed Salah, right, attempts a shot at goal past Porto's Felipe, left, during a Champions League play-offs first leg soccer match between FC Porto and AS Roma at the Dragao stadium in Porto, Portugal, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. (AP)

Although Roma could only finish second behind champions Juventus in the Serie A title race, Salah left his mark with a productive second half of the season, scoring five goals and creating two others in 10 appearances.

All in all, he was Roma's second highest top scorer in the Serie A with 15 goals, 14 behind the competition's top scorer and club teammate Edin Dzeko.

His rate of assists was also outstanding throughout the season, creating 13 goals to sit on top of the Serie A list of the highest assist makers.

Record move to Liverpool (June)

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Mohamed Salah completed his move to Liverpool in June 2017 (Photo: the club's official website)

Former Chelsea man Salah had unfinished business in the Premier League and he made headlines when he went back to the elite competition, sealing a record move to Liverpool.

He became the most expensive player in the club's history after joining them for €42m, eclipsing the €40m spent on Andy Carroll from Newcastle United in January 2011.

The move also broke the African transfer record set by Liverpool in July 2016 when they signed Senegalese forward Sadio Mane for €41.2m.

World Cup qualification (October)

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File photo: Egypt's Mohamed Salah celebrates defeating Congo during the 2018 World Cup group E qualifying soccer match at the Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria, Egypt. AP

In his own words, Salah described Egypt's World Cup qualification as one of the main highlights of his year, and maybe his career.

He was the hero of an unforgettable night in Alexandria, scoring twice in dramatic fashion to help the Pharaohs beat Congo 2-1 in a nerve-jangling game.

His double salvo included a penalty deep into stoppage time, which he converted after showing nerves of steel before some 80,000 fans to spark wild celebrations at Borg El-Arab Stadium in Egypt's second biggest city.

His five goals and two assists in the qualifiers were key in lifting Egypt to the Russia finals with one match to spare in their group.

Memorable goal in Merseyside derby (December)

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Liverpool vs Everton – Anfield, Liverpool, Britain – December 10, 2017, Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scores their first goal past Everton's Jordan Pickford Reuters

Salah further cemented his status as the darling of Liverpool after scoring a memorable goal in the Merseyside derby against Everton, who secured a share of spoils with a late Wayne Rooney goal.

He fired Liverpool in front three minutes before the break with a sublime strike, delighting the home supporters at Anfield.

He out-muscled his challenger on the right, tricked another inside the area and sent a trademark curling shot beyond the despairing dive of Everton keeper Jordan Pickford.

In an interview with SkySports, Salah rated this strike as his best goal with Liverpool.

Goals record with Liverpool (December)

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Soccer Football - Premier League - Liverpool vs Leicester City - Anfield, Liverpool, Britain - December 30, 2017 Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring their first goal Reuters

Salah etched his name in the history of books of Liverpool a few months after joining them, having scored 23 goals in all competitions before the turn of the year.

He bettered several of Liverpool's legends, including Ian Rush, Robbie Fowler and Kenny Dalglish and equaled the record set by Roger Hunt in 1961.

Salah's record was even more impressive than Hunt's, given that Liverpool were in the second division when Hunt reached that tally.

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

 
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