Mo Salah penalty rescues Egypt against Mozambique at Africa Cup of Nations

Mo Salah penalty rescues Egypt against Mozambique at Africa Cup of Nations
Mo Salah's equalising penalty saved Egypt from defeat at the hands of the Mozambique side on Sunday, despite being among the favourites to win the tournament.
3 min read
Egypt, ranked 33rd worldwide, were close to suffering a humiliating defeat to Mozambique during their first AFCON match of the tournament [Getty/file photo]

Mohamed Salah saved Egypt from an embarrassing defeat in their opening Africa Cup of Nations game on Sunday as he converted a penalty seven minutes into injury time to snatch a 2-2 draw with Mozambique.

The penalty was awarded following a VAR check by the referee for a foul on Mostafa Mohamed in the area at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan, and Salah's strike denied Mozambique a historic first ever AFCON win.

Mohamed had given record seven-time African champions Egypt the ideal start when he scored inside two minutes of the Group B encounter, but the sapping heat and humidity of a late afternoon kick-off then seemed to get the better of the Pharaohs.

Mozambique, who had not won a match in 12 previous attempts in four past appearances at the Cup of Nations, equalised through Witiness Quembo in the 55th minute.

The game was completely turned on its head as Mozambique scored again three minutes later when Clesio Bauque, on as a half-time substitute, burst through to make it 2-1.

Salah saved Egypt, but it was not a convincing start to their campaign in Ivory Coast where they are attempting to win a record-extending eighth AFCON crown and a first since 2010, before the Liverpool superstar had made his international debut.

Their next match here against Ghana's Black Stars on Thursday could still make or break their campaign before a final group outing against Cape Verde.

Egypt had beaten Mozambique on the way to winning the title in 1986 and in 2010, and also won a 1998 clash between the sides.

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The Pharaohs, runners-up to Senegal two years ago, scored here from their first chance, as Nantes striker Mohamed controlled, swivelled and fired home inside the box after Salah had failed to properly connect with a Mohamed Hamdy cross from the left.

Mahmoud Trezeguet hit a shot off the outside of the post in the 25th minute as Egypt looked to turn the screw, but the conditions appeared to start getting the better of them as the interval approached.

Mozambique had their moments late in the first half, and Egyptian goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy reacted well to stop Hamdy scoring an own goal at one point.

Chiquinho Conde, the coach of Mozambique, changed to a three-man central defence for the restart with a double substitution that included bringing on former Benfica winger Clesio.

The equaliser arrived when Quembo, known simply as 'Witi', rose unchallenged at the near post to head in a cross from the right by Domingos Macandza, with El Shenawy only able to help the ball on its way.

Clesio then stormed through to make it 2-1 and looked set to become the man who would give his country their debut victory at the tournament.

But the Mauritanian referee thwarted them as he ruled that Macandza had fouled Mohamed in the area at the death, giving Salah the opportunity to score from the spot.