Birthday boy Salah inspires Egypt to 3-1 friendly win over Guinea

Hatem Maher , Sunday 16 Jun 2019,
Mohamed Salah
Egypt's Mohamed Salah in action with Guinea's Issiaga Sylla (Photo: REUTERS)

Mohamed Salah came off the bench to make all the difference as Egypt claimed a 3-1 friendly victory over Guinea in Alexandria in their final African Cup of Nations warm-up on Sunday.

When the Liverpool star was introduced on the hour mark instead of Walid Soliman, he barely had time to touch the ball before substitute Sory Kaba brought Guinea level after making the most of a dreadful defensive mistake.

But Salah, who celebrated his 27th birthday on Saturday, still burst life into Egypt's lethargic attack, producing a brilliant piece of individual skill to help them restore their lead with 12 minutes remaining.

Running onto a through pass from Omar Gaber, who was at fault for Guinea's equaliser, Salah turned keeper Aly Keita inside out on the right before sending a low shot from a tight angle that came back off the post, leaving striker Ahmed Ali with an easy tap-in.

He also set up Gaber for a third in the dying minutes as Egypt secured another win after beating Tanzania 1-0 on Thursday, although their form and signs of defensive weaknesses will be alarming before the tournament gets underway.

Egypt open their Nations Cup campaign against Zimbabwe on Friday at Cairo's International Stadium.

Bright start

Egypt coach Javier Aguirre made several changes to the side that featured against Tanzania while Guinea missed Liverpool's injured midfielder Naby Keita, their standout player.

A bright start saw Egypt lay siege to Guinea's area, with defender Mahmoud Hamdi spurning a golden chance to open the scoring as early as the second minute when his close-range shot was cleared off the line after Aly Keita could only parry a cunning free-kick from playmaker Abdallah El-Said.

Lone striker Marwan Mohsen also intercepted a poor pass from Keita, who redeemed himself to block his weak curling shot.

However, the Ahly man made amends in superb fashion to give Egypt a deserved lead on 11 minutes. El-Said flicked a pass to the 30-year-old, who turned and hit an unstoppable right-foot shot from distance that caught out the advancing keeper.

It seemed Egypt could open the floodgates after going ahead but it was Guinea who imposed themselves, repeatedly sending through balls behind full-backs Gaber and the rookie Ahmed Mansour, who were repeatedly exposed.

Guinea's best chance came on the stroke of halftime when Mohamed Yattara broke clear after latching onto a defence-splitting pass, only to drag his shot wide.

Egypt failed to kill off the game in the early stages of the second half, with winger Mahmoud Trezeguet mis-hitting his shot twice when clean through after skipping past his challengers on both occasions.

They were punished in the 63rd minute when Kaba pounced on a poor back pass from Gaber to fire a low shot past keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi.

But Salah ensured Egypt would not be embarrassed, drawing cheers from the crowd when his superb effort helped the Pharaohs regain their advantage in the 78th minute.

He also fed the overlapping Gaber four minutes from time, with the Pyramids man's shot deflecting off the defender to wrong-foot Keita for the third goal.

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


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