Egypt’s first World Cup match since 1990 ended in defeat after an 89th minute header secured all three points for Uruguay.
Egypt put on a solid defensive performance but lacked the spark upfront to break down the South American’s strong defensive line. Mohamed Salah, on his birthday, watched the game from the bench despite Hector Cuper saying that the star will “100% play against Uruguay”.
Egypt XI (Subs): Mohamed El Shenawy; Ahmed Fathi, Ahmed Hegazi, Aly Gabr, Moihamed Abdel Shafy; Tarek Hamed (Sam Morsy), Mohamed Elneny; Amr Warda (Ramadan Sobhi), Abdallah El Said, Mahmoud Trezeguet; Marwan Mohsen (Mahmoud Kahraba).
Uruguay XI (Subs): Fernando Muslera, Guillermo Varela, Jose Gimenez, Diego Godin, Martin Caceres; Nahitan Nandez (Carlos Sanchez), Matias Vecino (Lucas Torreira), Rodrigo Bentancur, Giorgian De Arrascaeta (Cristian Rodriguez); Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez.
It was a conservative start to the game as both teams looked to keep the ball without taking risks in the final third. The first shot of the match came from Uruguay’s Edinson Cavani who received the ball on the left side and cut inside to his right foot before unleashing a shot right into Mohamed El Shenawy’s hands.
Egypt responded with a dangerous attack of their own after Mahmoud Trezeguet surged into Uruguay’s penalty box. The winger attempted a turn and shoot but a mishit ended the attack as the ball fell comfortably to Fernando Muslera.
Cavani almost scored a spectacular goal to break the deadlock after chest controlling a loose ball, lobbing It over Ahmed Fathi, and firing a left-footed volley towards the far corner. Aly Gabr, however, was there to head the ball over the crossbar.
The corner kick flew over everyone’s head and landed at Luis Suarez’s feet around the six-yard mark. The Barcelona forwardhit the side netting in bizarre fashion, holding his head in disbelief.
From that point on until the end of the half, Egypt, although well-organized, failed to create any real chances. The team fell a little further back as Uruguay controlled possession and pushed up the field. The first half ended goalless.
The second half kicked off with Suarez almost scoring once again after a long ball sent him through on goal, but his shot was brilliantly saved from close range. Shortly after, Tarek Hamed was forced off the field after a collision and was replaced by Sam Morsy.
The main battle of the match was on the right side of the field as Fathi and Amr Warda, Egypt’s top performers throughout the 90 minutes, constantly faced off against Cavani and Caceres. Fathi tested Muslera from distance after Warda fouled around the edge of the box but the referee signaled play on.
Mahmoud Kahraba came on for Marwan Mohsen who had a fairly uneventful game without troubling either Diego Godin or Jose Gimenez.
Suarez, once again, was sent through on goal but decided to try and go around El Shenawy instead of shooting and was stopped in his tracks by the goalkeeper. Third time wasn’t the charm for the Uruguayan.
Hector Cuper’s final substitution was made on the 81st minute as Amr Warda, who had an outstanding game, came off Huddersfield Town’s new boy, Ramadan Sobhi. Undeniably, El Shenawy was top performer in this match and was, deservingly, deemend man of the match.
The goal keeper then made another magnificent save to stop Cavani’s powerful volley and further cement his place as Egypt’s starting goalkeeper. Five minutes later, Cavani hit the post with a magnificent free-kick from close range.
But, the stalemate was finally put to an end after a strong header from Gimenez to score Uruguay’s first and only goal of the match.
The result puts Egypt in a position where a win against Russia is a must. Russia’s big win against Saudi Arabia gives them the advantage if qualification comes down to goal difference, which is why a draw against the host nation won’t be enough.
The second group stage match is against Russia on Tuesday at 8:00 PM.