Resolute Egypt hold Colombia to 0-0 draw in penultimate World Cup warm-up

Hatem Maher , Friday 1 Jun 2018,
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Mohsen
Colombia's Santiago Arias, left, challenges for the ball with Egypt's Marwan Mohsen during a friendly soccer match between Egypt and Colombia in Bergamo, Italy, Friday, June 1, 2018 AP

Egypt held firm in the face of waves of Colombian attack to hold the South American powerhouses to a 0-0 draw in the Italian city of Bergamo in their penultimate World Cup warm-up on Friday.

Colombia were unlucky not to find the net in a first half they dominated, with their barrage of attacks causing constant menace to Egypt's backline. The Pharaohs could have gone to the locker room 1-0 up though, had it not been for a brilliant save from David Ospina to smother a goal-bound header from Ramadan Sobhi on the stroke of halftime.

The second half was a bore affair, with Egypt putting men behind the ball to keep Colombia at bay.

Egypt coach Hector Cuper made nine changes to the side that faced Kuwait in a 1-1 friendly draw last week, fielding an almost full-strength team but still giving a chance to Ahly defender Saad Samir and Wigan Athletic midfielder Sam Morsy to stake a last-minute claim for a place in the final World Cup squad.

The seven-time African champions were resolute at the back but could not threaten Colombia on the break, with the absence of Liverpool's injured winger Mohamed Salah leaving their attack toothless.

They will face Belgium in their final friendly on Wednesday before flying to Russia to make their first World Cup appearance since 1990. They face Uruguay in their opening clash on 15 June before meeting hosts Russia and Arab Gulf side Saudi Arabia in Group A.

Cautious approach  

In a typical cautious approach, Egypt sat back in the first half to soak up Colombian pressure.

But their usual vulnerability in aerial duels almost cost them on several occasions before the break, with Radamel Falcao making a mockery of the central defenders.

The Monaco striker headed just wide twice after rising unmarked following crosses from the right and left in the first 15 minutes.

Bayern Munich playmaker James Rodriguez unsettled Egypt's midfield and backline with some neat moves, orchestrating Colombia's attacks and striking the post with a superb free-kick.  

Colombia's best first-half chance fell to Juan Cuadrado after a mistake from Sam Morsy in the 36th minute.

The central midfielder lost possession in midfield and Rodriguez slipped the ball to Juventus winger Cuadrado, whose attempted chip missed the target despite flying past onrushing keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi, who looked shaky throughout.

Egypt struggled to string passes together or launch any counter attacks as they sorely missed the pace of Salah, but they still squandered a golden chance to score against the run of play three minutes before the break.

In a rare combination, Turkish-based winger Mahmoud Trezeguet latched onto a first-time pass from experienced playmaker Abdallah El-Said, rushed to the byline and pulled the ball back to lone striker Marwan Mohsen.

Mohsen's attempt was blocked but a miscued defensive clearance from Barcelona's Yerry Mina found Stoke City winger Ramadan Sobhi, whose close-range header forced a fine save from Ospina.

Egypt made their six substitutions, but the introduction of the likes of Saudi-based winger Mahmoud Shikabala and Atromitos' Amr Warda did little to spur their sluggish attack into action after the interval.

Colombia had superior possession, laying siege to Egypt's area but they could not create clear-cut chances in a disappointing second half.

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