Salah on target as Egypt progress to last 16

Thursday, 2019-06-27 07:22:49
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Egypt's Mohamed Salah in action with DR Congo's Ngonda Muzinga - Africa Cup of Nations 2019 - Group A - Egypt v DR Congo - Cairo International Stadium, Cairo, Egypt - June 26, 2019. (Photo: Reuters)
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Egypt forward Mohamed Salah scored his first goal of this year’s Africa Cup of Nations to help the hosts to a 2-0 win over Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday which guaranteed them a place in the round of 16.

Ahmed Elmohamady broke the deadlock in the 25th minute, turning the ball in following a corner, before Salah netted a clinically-taken goal two minutes before halftime, sparking delirious celebrations at the Cairo International Stadium.

The result was harsh on the Congolese who twice hit the crossbar in the first half and spent most of the second on the attack in the Egyptian half.

Egypt, with six points from two games, guaranteed a top-two finish in Group A while Congo, who have no points, must beat Zimbabwe in their final match to have any chance of going through as one of the best third-placed teams.

The match was played in stifling heat and even at halftime, at 2300 local time, it was still 29 degrees Celsius.

The Congolese made a bright start as Tresor Mputu’s free kick was flicked on by Jonathan Bolingi and Marcel Tisserand touched it onto the crossbar.

They also shut out the hosts but, just as Egypt seemed to be running out of ideas, they went ahead from a set-piece.

A corner was taken short to Salah and he sent an inviting cross into the area. Elmohamady and Christian Luyindula both went for it and it rebounded for Elmohamady to turn into the net.

Congo hit the woodwork again as Bolingi outjumped his marker, only to see leader bounce off the crossbar.

Throughout all this, Salah looked as if he was in for a frustrating night after his disappointing evening in the 1-0 win over Zimbabwe.

The Egyptian icon had an early chance when he was given a clear run on goal but Tisserand managed to get a foot to his shot and deflected it wide.

Shortly after Egypt’s first goal, Salah had a free kick brilliantly saved by Ley Matampi but his frustration ended two minutes before halftime.

Mahmoud Trezeguet charged out of defence and released Salah who cut inside a defender and planted the ball in the net.

Egypt's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring their second goal - Africa Cup of Nations 2019 - Group A - Egypt v DR Congo - Cairo International Stadium, Cairo, Egypt - June 26, 2019. (Photo: Reuters)

Congo dominated the second half and were again unlucky not to score their first goal of the tournament. Bolingi had a header brilliantly saved by Mohamed El Shenawy and Yannick Bolasie sent a free kick centimetres wide of the post.

Earlier the same day, Nigeria became the first side to advance to the knockout stage as they beat Guinea 1-0, having taken more than an hour to break the deadlock for the second straight match.

Nigeria centre back Kenneth Omeruo scored the only goal of the game after 73 minutes, rising unchallenged to head home a corner from Moses Simon at the Alexandria Stadium. It was Nigeria's second Group B win from two games and their six points guarantees progress to the last 16 after.

The same day, two glaring misses by Knowledge Musona cost Zimbabwe as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Uganda. Uganda followed up their surprise 2-0 win over Democratic Republic of Congo in their first game by taking a 12th-minute lead through Emmanuel Okwi before Khama Billiat levelled for Zimbabwe five minutes before the break.

Musona should have equalised before that but fired over from close range and was guilty of an even worse effort in the second half when he hit the crossbar with an open goal from six metres.

Uganda have four points from two games in Group A with Zimbabwe, beaten 1-0 by Egypt in their first game, on one although they are still in the running for a last-16 place.

Reuters