Egypt s forward Mohamed Salah (L) fights for the ball with Guinea-Bissau s midfielder Moreto Cassama during the Group D Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 football match between Guinea-Bissau and Egypt at Stade Roumde Adjia in Garoua on January 15, 2022. AFP
The Liverpool talisman volleyed home from a tight angle nine minutes past the hour mark to break the resistance of Guinea-Bissau, finding the net for the first time since scoring a double in a 4-0 victory over Comoros in a Nations Cup qualifier.
Guinea-Bissau defended doggedly throughout and were harshly denied an equaliser with eight minutes remaining.
Mama Balde got the better of Omar Kamal on the left, cut inside and planted a curling shot into the far corner and beyond the despairing dive of keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi.
However, Burundian referee Pacifique Ndabihawenimana disallowed the goal after checking a video replay, adjudging Balde to have fouled Kamal in the tussle between the two players.
Egypt, who lost 1-0 to Nigeria in a disappointing opener last Tuesday, moved second in Group D with three points, three behind the Super Eagles. Guinea-Bissau and Sudan have one point apiece.
The record seven-time African champions need just a draw against Sudan on Wednesday to reach the last 16.
Egypt coach Carlos Queiroz, who came in for fierce criticism following a lackluster display against Nigeria, made four changes to his starting line-up.
He had to play with two new full-backs after Akram Tawfik and Ahmed Fattouh were injured, with natural winger Kamal introduced as a right-back and Ahly's Ayman Ashraf occupying the other flank.
Veteran playmaker Abdallah El-Said and Ahly's Amr El-Sulaya also took the places of Mahmoud Trezeguet and Hamdi Fathi in midfield respectively.
Egypt's first-half pressure yielded two goal-scoring chances inside the first 18 minutes as the Pharaohs were unlucky not to go ahead.
Salah's low shot from the edge of the area struck keeper Jonas Mendes's left-hand post, which also denied another effort from lone striker Mostafa Mohamed after a pull-back from Stuttgart winger Omar Marmoush.
Kamal was Egypt's liveliest performer, sending in several inviting crosses which the team's forwards failed to take advantage of.
Egypt were sluggish in the early stages of the second half though, allowing Guinea-Bissau to grow bolder.
Chances were at a premium until Salah made all the difference with an exquisite strike on 69 minutes.
El-Sulaya whipped in a pinpoint long ball on the turn, with Salah ghosting behind the defence at the far post to fire a left-foot volley past keeper Jonas Mendes.
Substitute Zizo almost doubled Egypt's lead on 75 minutes but saw his half-volley come back off the post following an inswinging cross from Kamal.
Egypt then eased off but breathed a sigh of relief after Balde's superb goal was disallowed to grab their first win of the tournament.
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