Salah scores as Egypt reach last 16 with win over DR Congo

Hatem Maher , Thursday 27 Jun 2019,
Mohamed Salah
Egypt's forward Mohamed Salah (R) celebrates after scoring a goal (Photo: AFP)

Mohamed Salah opened his account at this year's Africa Cup of Nations as hosts Egypt sealed smooth passage to the last 16 with a 2-0 win over DR Congo at Cairo Stadium on Wednesday.

Egypt once again failed to turn on the style before a sell-out crowd that was subdued by another below-par performance, but they got the job done amid little resistance from DR Congo.

Aston Villa right-back Ahmed Elmohamady put the Pharaohs ahead in the 25th minute with a superb finish from inside the area and Salah doubled the lead two minutes before the break with an even better strike after some brilliant individual work from in-form winger Mahmoud Trezeguet.

The second half was a bore affair, with sections of the supporters leaving the stands in the dying minutes after making sure Egypt would advance to the knockout stage as they bid for a record-extending eighth title.

Egypt are on top of Group A with a maximum six points after beating Zimbabwe 1-0 in the opener, two ahead of Uganda and five clear of second-placed Zimbabwe. DR Congo face an uphill climb to advance as they lie at the bottom with no points.

Warda expelled

The build-up to the match was overshadowed by Egypt's decision to expel Greek-based winger Amr Warda after he was accused by several women of verbal sexual harassment, with his absence leaving the team short of attacking options on the bench.

But it was business as usual after kick-off, with Salah and Trezeguet tirelessly roaming down both flanks to unsettle what initially looked like an organized DR Congo defence.

Salah could have opened the scoring as early as the fourth minute when he ran onto a long ball to break clear, but his marker redeemed himself to deflect the winger's goal-bound shot for a corner.

DR Congo then imposed themselves with some bold moves in the final third and almost stunned the home crowd after 10 minutes when Cedric Bakambu's close-range volley struck the bar after a corner was flicked into his path.

However, Egypt scored out of the blue when a cross from Salah found Elmohamady, whose initial header was stopped by Christian Luyindama's arm. The ball fell to him again and he showed great skills to control it with his left, drag it back and drill it with the outside of his right foot past the keeper.

Egypt eased off after taking the lead and DR Congo missed a golden chance to equalize when a looping header from Bakambu came back off the post.   

A lethargic display from veteran playmaker Abdallah El-Said deprived Egypt of much-needed creativity in the middle, forcing Trezeguet to repeatedly drop deep and initiate the team's attacks.

From one such spectacular move Egypt doubled their lead.

Trezeguet nutmegged his challenger in his own half, ran half the length of the pitch and slipped a delightful threaded pass to Salah, who despite being surrounded by two defenders found the tiniest of spaces to beat the keeper at his near post with a trademark left-foot effort.

Egypt did not break a sweat in a dour second half, leaving DR Congo to control possession and launch some hopeful long-range shots which barely troubled keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi.

The closest Egypt came to adding a third was in the 67th minute when substitute Ahmed Kouka, who replaced ineffective striker Marwan Mohsen, ran onto a pass from Salah but his low shit hit the side netting.

Egypt labored in the final stages to make it two wins out of two, although coach Javier Aguirre will have many questions to answer after another uninspiring performance.   

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


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