Egypt qualify for World Cup after defeating Congo 2-1
Egypt have qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1990 after beating Congo 2-1 in Alexandria, thanks to two goals from Mohamed Salah.
Egypt XI: Essam El-Hadary; Ahmed Fathi, Ahmed Hegazi, Rami Rabia, Mohamed Abdel-Shafy; Tarek Hamed, Mohamed Elneny, Ramadan Sobhi, Mohamed Salah, Saleh Gomaa; Ahmed Hassan ‘Kouka’.
Congo XI: Barel Mouko, Ramaric Etou, Fernand Mayembo, Béranger Itoua, Tobias Badila; Delvin N’Dinga, Prince Oniangué, Dylan Bahamboula, Dzon Delarge, Dylan Saint-Louis; Thievy Bifouma.
Egypt controlled possession early throughout the match, being the more attacking side. Salah drew a foul at the edge of the box on the 5th minute, giving the Pharaohs a free kick in a very dangerous position. The Liverpool winger played the ball to Tarek Hamed, who skied the ball over the bar.
Ramadan Sohbi played a clever chipped through ball to Salah in the 12th minute, but Congo goalkeeper Mouko collected the ball.
The guests began to show some dominance in the game as time advanced, with Prince Oniangué shooting from long distance.
Salah played a wide free kick from the right wing, earning a corner in the 20th minute.
Just minutes later, it was Salah threatening the Congolese defense once again, dribbling down the wing and playing a driven low cross to Kouka. A Congo defender made a last ditch tackle, before the ball fell to Ahmed Hegazi around 10 yards out from goal; Hegazi made an effort but placed it poorly as Mouko was able to save it.
There was a yellow card for Babila Samuel after tackling Mohamed Salah on the edge of the box. Saleh Gomaa’s free-kick was cleared easily.
Ahmed Fathi stopped a Congolese counterattack before misplacing a pass. He won the ball back on the edge of the box, before dangerously giving it away to an opposing attacker, who shot it and earned a corner.
Salah drew another free kick on the edge of the box just before halftime. As the Reds winger lined up to take it, Egyptian fans pointed green lasers at the eyes of the Congo goalkeeper but it came to no avail as Mouko saved the free kick with ease to end the half at 0-0.
In the 48th minute, Salah drove down the field with the ball, playing a delayed through ball to Kouka who was offside.
Congo nearly opened the scoring in the 50th minute, but Egypt veteran keeper Essam El-Hadary made a brilliant save.
Minutes later Salah played a through ball to Saleh Gomaa, whose shot was weak and saved by the goalkeeper.
Salah opened the scoring in the 62 minute as he made use of a deflected Elneny pass and scored with an almost vintage finish of his, chipping it over the diving keeper. The crowd went wild as players and fans celebrated in the corner. This was Salah’s 31st international goal, making him the 5th top scorer in Egypt’s history surpassing Amr Zaki.
Salah came very close to doubling the socre on the 78th minute. Ramadan dispossed Congo in his own half, before dribbling the ball through the midfield and playing Salah on his right side. Salah’s shot was saved as Mouko stopped it with his foot.
The Stoke City winger seemed to be low on breath, coming off on a car in the 82 minute. Thankfully he was fine, and came on just after wasting a few minutes of gameplay. He was then substituted off for Ahmed Elmohamady on the 86th minute. It was a smart move in theory by Hector Cuper, as he switched an attacker for a defender. But seconds later a cross was played in by Congo, and Elmohamady’s man slipped past him and scored.
Five minutes of injury time were added and there was a penalty shout on the 90th minute for Egypt, but the referee decided it was fair play. In the dying minutes, a long free-kick was deflected back to Ahmed Hegazi who flicked the ball in the box, Mahmoud Hassan Trezeguet went for it, but a Congo defender fouled him, earning a penalty for Egypt.
To complete the Cinderella story, Salah stepped up for the penalty. He smashed the ball to the right side of the goal as the keeper went the wrong way. Salah scored his brace, earning his 32nd international goal to give Egypt a 2-1 lead. As the full time whistle blew, chaos ensued. Thousands of fans on the field celebrating with the players.
Egypt have finally qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1990. Their next game will be against Ghana in November. The draw for the World Cup will take place December 1st.
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