World Cup hosts Russia are on the verge of becoming the first side into the knockout stages after a commanding victory over Egypt on Tuesday night.
Much was expected of the Pharaohs to respond after an opening-game 1-0 defeat to Uruguay – particularly with star forward Mo Salah back in the starting lineup – but Hector Cuper’s side never really got going and now sit on the verge of an early exit.
After a tentative first half, the deadlock was broken in cruel circumstances not long after the restart. Own goals have become a recurring theme at these finals, and Ahmed Fathi diverted past his own keeper in the 47th minute.
From there, Russia pushed on, and doubled their advantage just before the hour mark as Denis Cheryshev fired past Egyptian goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenwawi to score his third of the competition. Two became three just three minutes later as Artem Dzyuba, a scoring substitute against Saudi Arabia, effectively ended the tie as a contest.
Egypt pulled one back with just over fifteen minutes remaining, thanks in part to VAR. Mo Salah was fouled, of that there is no question, but the referee needed video help to determine if the foul occurred inside or outside the box. The penalty was given in the end, and the Liverpool forward struck past Igor Akinfeev to mark his first (and possibly only) World Cup start with a goal.
Egypt pushed forward a little more in the closing stages but it wasn’t to be, Russia earned the victory that effectively secures their place in the knockout stages (a feat that will be confirmed if Uruguay do as expected and defeat Saudi Arabia on Tuesday) while Egypt’s World Cup is effectively over.