Published: Wed, June 20, 2018
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Russian Federation beat Egypt to close on qualification

Russian Federation beat Egypt to close on qualification

Russian Federation got their World Cup campaign off to a dream start with a 5-0 thumping of Saudi Arabia but face an entirely different beast in the form of Egypt, who should be revitalized by the return of their talismanic striker Mohamed Salah.

A 15-minute collapse all but ended Egypt's brief World Cup campaign after they slumped to a 3-1 loss to Russian Federation in their second World Cup Group A clash on Tuesday, with the hosts becoming on the brink of reaching the last 16.

Denis Cheryshev capped a brace in Russia's opening 5-0 rout of Saudi Arabia with a superb stoppage-time finish but the Spanish-raised midfielder knows all about an esteemed tactician who he expects to make life hard for his teammates.

Dzyuba got in on the act with a fantastic turn and finish to send the crowd into raptures, though Zobnin's clumsy pull-back at least enabled Salah to get himself a World Cup goal soon after. Egypt is still without a victory in six World Cup matches.

For Egypt to have any hope of an impressive performance against the World Cup elite, they need him.

Left-back Yuri Zhirkov trained individually on Sunday because of a minor ankle problem but is likely to be passed fit. "Ready for tomorrow", "100 million strong", read the caption for the video he posted yesterday, which shows Salah talking to the camera saying, "You might think that all this pressure on me to score could be a pressure". And, the game against Egypt won't be easy for the hosts as the Egyptian King will be making an appearance for his team after missing team's first game.

Three goals came from reserves, and two of those came from Denis Cheryshev, a talented winger at Villarreal and former youth player for Real Madrid. Salah's inclusion will add some firepower in Egypt's chances of scoring a goal.

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After a goalless first 45 minutes during which Egypt were the livelier side but were clearly nervous in front of goal, the game burst into life in the most fortuitous of manners from the hosts, Captain Ahmed Fathi deflecting a shot into his own net two minutes into the second half.

By starting its World Cup with a win, Senegal also saved Africa from embarrassment in the tournament.

Mohamed Salah rose to fame after a sensational season with Liverpool in the Premier League that ended with him winning the Golden Boot, among many awards.

Widely expected to crash out of Group A, the hosts are instead it on the brink of progress to the knockout phase after following the 5-0 thrashing of Saudi Arabia with another comprehensive win.

The way he shuffled off at the end, as Russia's substitutes rushed on to celebrate a 3-1 victory in Group A, suggested even he knew it was a long shot.

This is the first time as many as four South American nations have failed to win their opening game at a World Cup tournament since 1974.

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