Egypt 2-0 DR Congo: Africa Cup of Nations 2019 – as it happened

  • Elmohamady and Salah send hosts through to last 16

Salah strike sends Pharaohs through

Mohamed Salah scored his first goal of this year’s Africa Cup of Nations to help hosts Egypt to a 2-0 win over Democratic Republic of Congo which guaranteed them a place in the knockout stages.

Aston Villa full-back Ahmed Elmohamady broke the deadlock in the 25th minute, turning the ball in following a corner before Salah netted two minutes before half-time. The Liverpool forward finished clinically from Trezeguet’s pass to send the packed Cairo International Stadium wild with delight.

The result was perhaps harsh on the Congolese, who twice hit the crossbar in the first half. Jonathan Bolingi’s header rattled the woodwork moments before Salah scored, while Marcel Tisserand missed the chance to put the Leopards ahead after connecting with Bolingi’s flick-on 11 minutes on.

With two defeats from two games, DR Congo must now hope to beat Zimbabwe and squeeze through from third place. Egypt face Uganda in their final game, needing only a draw to secure top spot in Group A. Reuters

Full-time: Egypt 2-0 DR Congo

The hosts march into the last 16 - as group winners if they can avoid defeat to Uganda in their third match. They did not sparkle here - except when scoring their second goal, created by a great run by Trezeguet and finished beautifully by Salah. But they were efficient when it mattered, and were helped by a bit of luck, particularly when DR Congo struck the bar twice. The Leopards played better than in their first match but are left with only a remote chance of creeping into the next round as one of the best third-best placed teams.

Egypt’s forward Mohamed Salah shakes hands with Congo’s defender Wilfred Moke.
Egypt’s forward Mohamed Salah shakes hands with Congo’s defender Wilfred Moke. Photograph: Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images

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90+2 min: Bolasie’s weak shot from the left is diverted just over the bar by Bakambu from eight yards.

90 min: DR Congo have at times been woefully rash around the box, firing off outlandish shots when there were several better options. No wonder Egypt have been confident they could spend the last half hour protecting their lead.

88 min: Salah gets a chance to run at the defence, all on his own versus three opponents. He makes it into the box but his shot is smothered as soon as it leaves his foot.

87 min: Ghazal marks his arrival by chopping down Bakambu. The ref writes his name in his naughty book.

86 min: Bolasie has a go from an improbable angle and distance. Alaa takes no chances and diverts it out for a corner. It’s badly delivered.

Egypt substitution: Ghazal on, Trezeguet off after a fine performance, notably his contribution to Salah’s goal.

83 min: Ooooh! Bolasie rasps the freekick around the six-man wall and the goalkeeper ... but inches wide of the far post.

82 min: Bolaise threads a pass through to Bakambu, who goes down at the edge of the box under a tackle from Alaa. Freekick to DR Congo ... and only a yellow card for Alaa...

80 min: Bolasie gallops down the right ... and wafts a cross into no-man’s-land.

78 min: Important interception by Hegazi to prevent Bolasie from getting through on goal. DR Congo will try from a corner instead. Bakambu’s header is booted away three yards shy of the line.

76 min: Issama sends over his best cross of the match, and Bolingi meets it with a towering header from eight yards, rising high above Hegazi. El Shenawy shows rapid reflexes and a strong hand to make a terrific save low to his right!

74 min: Maghoma has played well. Hemakes good ground through midfield before fizzing a low pass in to Bakambu, who does well to turn and shoot, albeit without enough power to beat the keeper from 20 yards.

73 min: Salah comes deep to collect the ball inside his own half. Then he spins and drives forward at high speed. His pass fails to find a man, as quite often in this tournament. But at no point could his work-rate be doubted. The man is going to need a good long holiday before resuming Premier League action next season (same for Mané).

71 min: Issama sears forward down the right but then gets his delivery wrong.

70 min: Bakambu has a go from nigh-on 30 yards but gets nowhere near the target. That pretty much sums up his tournament so far. He’s been desperately disappointing.

68 min: Elneny booked for wrapping his legs around those of Bolasie from behind and forcing the winger to the ground. That was dangerous and should have been punished with a red.

Egypt substitution: Solimon off, Mohsen off

66 min: Elneny feeds Salah, who loses control but then fights to win it back, poking it through to Trezeguet, whose low shot from 16 yards hurtles into the sidenetting.

64 min: Egypt have retreated quite deep in the last few minutes, seemingly happy to let DR Congo try to infiltrate them, and confident they can fend off those attempts.

Egypt fans watch the game on a big screen in Cairo.
Egypt fans watch the game on a big screen in Cairo. Photograph: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters

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DR Congo substitution: Bolasie on, Bopé off.

63 min: Bakambu retrieves a raking pass from deep by Bopé, then lays it back to Elia. Hegazi rises high to head the in-swinging cross clear.

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61 min: Elmohamady’s attempt at trickery deep in his own territory backfires and he’s robbed by Elia. But DR Congo’s attack soon peters out.

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Egypt substitution: Hassan on, Mohsen off.

59 min: Ngona booked for crashing to El Said near half way, driving his studs into the players thigh, perhaps accidentally. The break in play might enable Egypt to regain their composure after a couple of minutes of highly-strung defending.

58 min: Good play by DR Congo, who are now attacking with urgency and putting Egypt under lots of pressure. A breakthrough now would make the last half hour of this very interesting ...

56 min: Maghoma pings a low cross towards the near post. Bakambu tries to turns it goalward but doesn’t get a good enough touch.

54 min: Salah balloons a corner all the way out of play beyond the far post.

53 min: El Said, picking up the ball wide on the left, smuggles it through to Salah, who skips forward and tries to nip it through to Mohsen. But Luyindama reads his intentions and cuts it out.

52 min: Issama fires a cross in from the right, and watches it fly out of play on the far side.

51 min: Luyindama barges into the back of Salah, conceding a freekick midway inside his own half and copping the wrath of the entire crowd.

49 min: Meschak has a pop from 25 yards. But his gentle curler is comfortably saved by El Shenawy.

48 min: A shot by Salah is charged down at the edge of the area, but moments later he’s threatening again, laying the ball off to El Said and darting into the box for the return pass. But it’s overhit.

DR Congo substitution: Elia on, Mputu off.

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46 min: I trust the players took plenty of water on board during the interval, because there weren’t any water breaks during the first half. There have been very few in the tournament so far despite the supposed encouragement to let the players rehydrate in the intense heat. Odd.

Half-time: Egypt 2-0 DR Congo

As a spectacle it’s been turbo-charged fun so far, but DR Congo will see nothing to smile about the fact that they trail by two goals after hitting the crossbar twice themselves. They’ve played well, but Egypt have been the more clinical and are en route to the knockout stages unless the Leopards produce something special in the second half.

GOAL! Egypt 2-0 DR Congo (Salah 43)

The Cairo crowd go wild! That’s what they came to see! Little had been going right for Salah so far in the tournament but that’s all changed now. His finish was splendid and big thanks are due to Trezeguet, who created the chance with a jagged run in-field from the left and and a cute pass through to Salah. The forward was left with one defender to beat from the edge of the area, and he feinted to curl it around Tisserand but then banged it past him on the near side, fooling the keeper!

A fine finish from Mohamed Salah (centre) doubles Egypt’s lead.
A fine finish from Mohamed Salah (centre) doubles Egypt’s lead. Photograph: Khaled Elfiqi/EPA
Congo’s goalkeeper Matampi Ngumbi Ley lies beaten as Egypt’s Mohamed Salah wheels away in celebration.
Congo’s goalkeeper Matampi Ngumbi Ley lies beaten as Egypt’s Mohamed Salah wheels away in celebration. Photograph: Hassan Ammar/AP

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41 min: The Leopards have twice shown their ability to pose problems to the Egyptian defence in the air, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to launch a few more into the mixer.

39 min: Maghoma clips a pass towards the back post. Bopé heads it back towards the centre, where Bolingi outjumps the defender six yards out and nods it over the keeper ... and onto the crossbar! That’s the second time it’s been rattled by DR Congo!

35 min: Snazzy interplay by DR Congo, zipping forward with a sequence of one-touch passes. But that only takes them to within a roar of the Egyptian box, and then the Pharaohs win the ball back and romp forward themselves. If the final cross had not been too long, Salah would surely have scored at the back post.

33 min: Elmohamady penalised for shoving Maghoma as the pair competed for an aerial ball. Mputu fancies the freekick, which is about 23 yards out, near the left-hand corner of the box. Mputu dabs it over the wall, inviting his runners to throw themselves at it. Tisserand does exactly that ... and goes tantalisingly close to getting a killer touch! Instead the ball drifts wide of the far post.

31 min: Salah lashes a curling freekick around the wall, but is denied by Matampi, who gets both hands on it and beats it away to safety.

29 min: Mohsen comes a cropper just outside the Congolese D following a rugged tackle by Bopé, who’s booked and therefore ruled out of the next match. And Egypt have a chance to make him pay even more, as the freekick is well placed...

27 min: Tisserand does well to stretch out a leg and intercept Mohsen’s attempted through-ball for Salah. In truth, Mohsen’s pass lacked power: he should have been able to release Salah. Egypt, though, are playing with more vibrancy now that they’ve got the lead. Can the Leopards mount a fightback? They started the game well so will be aghast at falling behind.

25 min: Salah played a key role in that goal. The corner from the right as taken short to him and then he pinged a vicious cross into the danger zone. Elomahady and Luyindula challenged for it and when the ball rebounded off bodies and back into the path of Elmohamady, he fired low into the net.

GOAL! Egypt 1-0 DR Congo (Elmohamady 25)

A corner triggers panic in the Congolese box, and when the ball breaks to Elmohamady, he stabs home from seven yards!

Egypt’s Ahmed Elmohamady scores.
Egypt’s Ahmed Elmohamady, centre, shoots ... Photograph: Hassan Ammar/AP
Congo’s goalkeeper Matampi Ngumbi Ley watches the ball go into the net for Egypt's opening goal.
And Congo’s goalkeeper Matampi Ngumbi Ley can only watch as the ball flies into the net. Photograph: Hassan Ammar/AP
Egypt’s Ahmed El Mohamady celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates.
Elmohamady celebrates his goal. Photograph: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

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21 min: Elneny slips a pass through to Salah a few yards outside the box. Salah tries to dribble his way into a shooting position but runs straight into trouble and is relieved of the ball through an ungainly tackle, which many in the stadium construed as a foul. Not the ref, though.

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20 min: After lots of sideways passing, Egypt run short of ideas, so El Said hangs up a high ball into the box from near half-way. Easy pickings for the keeper.

17 min: DR Congo have succeeded in knocking Egypt off their stride. The Pharoahs circulate the ball patiently at the back but as soon as they approach the Congolese half they find the going a lot tougher. And the Leopards are primed to tear forward as soon as they win back the ball. It’s a gripping contest.

15 min: Egypt build methodically from the back, working it slowly but surely to Salah, who immediately gives it away. It’s just not happening for him so far in this tournament.

Egypt’s forward Mo Salah (left) tussles with Congo’s defender Marcel Tisserand.
Egypt’s forward Mo Salah (left) tussles with Congo’s defender Marcel Tisserand. Photograph: Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

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13 min:Bolingi knows he can’t reach a lofted cross into the box but carries on his run so that he clatters into the keeper. It’s a freekick out, but a useful warning served to the keeper that if he comes for crosses, he can expect a collision. The Leopards are on a mission here: they haven’t come to play the polite guests.

11 min: Hegazi concedes another corner, nudging the ball out of play after a long throw-in was flicked on to the near post. This time Mputu’s delivery is a peach and very nearly bears even better fruit. It was flicked on at the near post by Bolingi, and Tisserand, straining to reach it, touches it on to the crossbar from three yards!

Congo’s forward Jonathan Bolingi beats Egypt’s defender Ayman Ashraf to the ball.
Congo’s forward Jonathan Bolingi beats Egypt’s defender Ayman Ashraf to the ball. Photograph: Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images

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9 min: Moke’s cross from the right is put out for a corner by Hegazi. Mputu delivers but Trezeguet heads to safety.

6 min: Already the Leopards look far more coherent than they did in their opening game. They’re functioning like a unit, choosing when to press Egypt and doing it well. But Egypt are still enjoying the majority of possession...

4 min: A slack Congolese pass out from defence is intercepted and sent straight forward for Salah to chase. He latches on to it and finds himself bearing down on goal! Tisserand stretches out a foot to get a nick to Salah’s shot from the edge o the box, deflecting it narrowly wide!

3 min: Ashraf intercepts a long pass from the back but then loops a weak header to Mputu, who lets fly with a volley from 20 yards. It’s well struck but straight at El Shenawy.

2 min: Salah is operating from the right wing but hasn’t had a touch yet. However, Trezeguet has already showed his menace from the other flank with a dangerous raid towards the box. But he was dispossessed before he got there.

1 min: There’s a thrum of anticipation around the stadium as DR Congo kick off ...

The teams enter the Cairo arena, which is of course full to its 60,000 capacity, and overwhelmingly red. DR Congo, meanwhile, are clad in magnificent all white kit with light blue trims across the neck and shoulders and a leopard silhouette on the belly. It’s quality clobber, and no mistake.

Egypt fans before the match.
The Egypt fans are in full effect. Photograph: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters
The players line up on the pitch.
The players line up on the pitch. Photograph: Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images

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Nick Ames has more on that expulsion of Amr Warda from Egypt’s squad. Sounds like the player’s got some serious explaining to do.

Proof that DR Congo know how to make an entrance ...

There’s a hint of Loi-era Koffi Olomide about that arrival (minus the France jerseys, obviously)...

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Teams

Hegazi has overcome his fitness worries and will start in central defence. Salah looks like he’ll start on the right again, with Mohsen in the centre. Amr Warda is notably by his absence from the bench, having been ejected from the squad today for an undisclosed breach of discipline (reference has been made to unwholesome social media exchanges). For the Leopards, the Premier League players Bolasie and Masuaku have been dropped, as has the former Premier LEague player Mbemba. Bolingi, Maghoma and Moke.

Egypt: El Shenawy; Elmohamady, Hegazi, Slaa, Ashraf; Elneny, El Said, Hamed; Salah, Mohsen, Trezeguet

Subs: Gennesh, Gaber, El-Wensh, Mansour, Elmohamady, Soliman, Dunga, Ali, Kouka

DR Congo: Matampi; Issama, Luyindama, Ngonda, Tisserand; Bopé, Mputu, Moke; Maghoma, Bakambu, Bolingi

Subs: Akolo, Mulumbu, Mpoku, Bolasie, Elia, Masuaku, Assombolanga, Ngawai, Shabani, Mbemba, Mandanda

Referee: V Gomes (South Africa)

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Preamble

Hello, welcome, please make yourselves at home. But know that being at home brings its own pressure, especially if you’re an Egyptian footballer. The Pharaohs kicked off their campaign with a 1-0 win over Zimbabwe last Friday and although they showed glimpses of thrilling fluency, their performance left plenty of room for improvement. Even Mohamed Salah fell below the standard demanded, as his attempt to influence that match was frustrated by a combination of strong defending by Divine Lunga and uncharacteristically hefty touches by Salah himself. Egypt’s manager, Javier Aguirre, said Salah arrived a little jaded from his epic season with Liverpool but will grow into this tournament. Let’s hope so, for the sake of the spectacle. He also said Salah may be deployed in a central striking role today, as opposed to on the right wing, where he began against Zimbabwe. If that works, then expect him to fire Egypt towards the victory that will confirm their presence in the last 16.

While Egypt fans want to see a little more from their side, supporters of DR Congo must wonder when their team is going to turn up at all. The Leopards were catastrophic in their first outing, deservedly beaten 2-0 by Uganda. It was the worst performance of any team in the tournament so far because they played like a senseless rabble, which was surprising from a team managed by Florent Ibenge. The Congolese collective malfunctioned and so too did their individuals: while Salah failed to shine for Egypt, Congo’s star player, Cédric Bakambu, stood out for his sheer awfulness. Yannick Bolasie was only marginally better. If the Leopards don’t pull themselves together and harness the talent they clearly possession, they’ll be on their way home real soon. A draw might do for them today – although that would leave them needing to beat Zimbabwe, who took four points off them in qualifying, so a win here would be much better. Ibenge has vowed to attack.

Let’s be having you!

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