Second-string Egypt lose to Greece in World Cup warm-up

Hatem Maher , Tuesday 27 Mar 2018

Greece's Nikolaos Karelis reacts as he scores during their international friendly football match between Egypt and Greece at the Letzigrund stadium in Zurich on March 27, 2018 AFP

A second-string Egypt side proved a disappointment on their second World Cup warm-up game, slumping to a 1-0 loss to Greece on a slippery pitch in Zurich on Tuesday.

Egypt were undone by a first-half goal from Nikos Karelis, who once again exposed the team's frailties in dealing with crosses to head home after an inviting ball from the right.

In a much-changed starting line-up from the one coach Hector Cuper fielded in the last-gasp 2-1 defeat by Portugal last Friday, Egypt hardly threatened Greece and none of the new faces could impress.

Several key players were rested, including Liverpool winger Mohamed Salah.

Egypt have three friendly matches remaining before they make their first World Cup appearance in 28 years. They take on Kuwait in May before meeting heavyweights Colombia and Belgium in June.

Cuper made wholesale changes to the side that lost to Portugal, testing some fringe players and handing debuts to others, including Ismaily goalkeeper Mohamed Awad and Enppi playmaker Mohamed Magdi.

Although Egypt could have grabbed an early lead, they were largely on the back foot in a dull first-half littered with mistakes, with heavy rain making things more difficult for both sides.

Saudi-based winger Moemen Zakareya made a rare Egypt appearance and spurned a golden chance to put his side ahead after six minutes.

Stoke City winger Ramadan Sobhi exchanged passes with striker Marwan Mohsen and broke clear after a jinking run, unselfishly squaring the ball to Zakareya whose shot was denied by the outstretched legs of goalkeeper Andreas Gianniotis.

Egypt then sat back, allowing Greece to push forward en masse.

Greece could not create clear-cut chances despite their territorial dominance but still managed to open the scoring on 29 minutes when Michalis Bakakis's inch-perfect cross from the right was headed in by Karelis.

Egypt were also pegged back in the early stages of the second half and Greece almost went 2-0 up in the 59th minute, only for Kostas Stafylidis to fire a low, angled shot wide of the post with the goal at his mercy after a defensive lapse.

The Pharaohs only improved following the introduction of veteran playmaker Abdallah El-Said, who created their only goal against Portugal for Salah.

One of El-Said's perfectly-weighted long balls found the unmarked Mahmoud Kahraba inside the area but the substitute's effort was thwarted by Gianniotis in Egypt's best second-half chance on 69 minutes.

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