Substitute Refaat lifts Egypt to Arab Cup semis after win over Jordan

Hatem Maher , Saturday 11 Dec 2021

Ahmed Refaat came off the bench to score and provide an assist as Egypt defeated a resilient Jordan side 3-1 after extra time to book their place in the FIFA Arab Cup semi-final on Saturday.

Ahmed Refaat
Egypt s forward Ahmed Refaat (L) celebrates scoring his team s second goal during the FIFA Arab Cup 2021 quarter final football match between Egypt and Jordan at the Al-Janoub Stadium in the Qatari city of Al-Wakrah on December 11, 2021 (AFP)

Yazan Al-Naimat gave Jordan a surprise lead after 12 minutes with a delightful curler and they were unlucky not to extend their lead on several occasions as Egypt looked disjointed.

However, the Pharaohs restored parity on the stroke of halftime, thanks to a header from the otherwise under-performing striker Marwan Hamdi, but they could not finish off their opponents in the second half as Jordan gave them a run for their money.

The introduction of Refaat, who plays for Egyptian Premier League newcomers Future FC, made all the difference as he put Egypt ahead early in the first half of extra time before setting up fellow substitute Marwan Dawoud for a killer blow just before the end of the exciting contest.

Egypt will meet North African rivals Tunisia in the semi-final in Qatari capital Doha on Wednesday.

Unfamiliar positions

Egypt's Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz, who acknowledged that he would use the Arab Cup to try different strategies, once again deployed some players in unfamiliar positions, with his side lacking harmony in a disappointing first half.

Al-Naimat opened the scoring when he collected a pass from Ali Olwan just inside the area and curled the ball into the far corner of the net amid little challenge from novice central defender Ahmed Yassin, who deputized for the injured Ahmed Hegazi.

Jordan could have further shocked Egypt, with a fierce volley from Noor Al-Rawabdeh forcing a brilliant save from keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi and Olwan rattling the crossbar with another powerful drive.

Egypt levelled the score against the run of play when Hamdi sent a looping header over Jordan's goalkeeper Yazeed Abulaila, who looked shaky throughout, following a teasing floated ball from energetic midfielder Ahmed Zizo.

Both sides looked lethargic in the second half but Zizo could have won it for Egypt at the death when he was found unmarked by an inch-perfect long ball from Amr El-Sulaya but he headed over the bar with the goal at his mercy.

Zizo was awarded a penalty early in the first half of extra time but the referee overturned his original decision after a VAR review, with television replays showing that the ball had struck the Zamalek winger's arm after he cut ahead of Abulaila, who felled him.

But Refaat made amends on 99 minutes, sending a first-time low shot home following a cut-back from fellow substitute Mohamed Sherif, who skipped past his challenger on the right.

Refaat then found Dawoud unmarked with an inviting cross at the far post to head home in the 119th minute for his maiden Egypt goal on only his second international appearance.

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