World Cup 2018: Last-gasp Uruguay header sinks Egypt
June 15, 2018
A late Jose Maria Gimenez header broke the deadlock to give Uruguay a winning start in Russia. Egypt were without star player Mohamed Salah, who is not fully fit after injuring his shoulder in the Champions League final.
It was all going perfectly to plan. The decision to rest Mohamed Salah, the beating heart of this Egypt side, looked as if it had paid off. The Liverpool forward rested on the sidelines as his teammates battled bravely for a point against group favorites Uruguay.
That was until Uruguay defender Jose Maria Gimenez rose highest to meet a Carlos Sanchez freekick in the 90th minute. His header was unstoppable, rippling the back of the net before goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shenawy could even fathom what had happened. A moment of euphoria for the South Americans; of heartbreak for the team from North Africa.
On balance, it was probably a fair outcome. Uruguay, while hardly dominant, had enjoyed the lion's share of chances and would have been ruing their profligacy had Giminez not intervened.
The win puts Uruguay second in Group A, behind Russia, after the host nation thumped Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening game of the tournament. Egypt will be hoping to fare a good deal better when they take on the hosts on June 19. Salah will be expected to return for a must-win fixture and there is an irony to the notion that an entire nation's hopes rest on such fragile shoulders.
For Uruguay, a clash with Saudi Arabia awaits on June 20. Fans back home will be expecting a big win, given how leaky the Saudis looked against Russian strikers several leagues below the level of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.
Both looked a little off, here, with only Cavani really threatening with a freekick that thumped the post in the second half.
As it happened...
Egypt 0 - 1 Uruguay
95' - So close from Egypt at the very death! Fathi whips in an arcing cross but Godin gets the feintest glance and directs it over the head of the onrushing Kahraba. The ball is colelcted and sent back into the box but Godin meets it a second time. Elneny then lets fly from the edge of the area but its blocked.
90' - GOAL! Uruguay win a freekick close to the Egypt corner flag. The dead ball is whipped in beautifully by the substitute Sanchez and José María Giménez rises higher than anyone to meet it. The header is unstoppable: a bullet just inside the post. Hard luck, Egypt, but Uruguay have probably just about edged it and deserve the three points.
88' - Oh, so close! Cavani absolutely smacks it, it sails clean over the Egypt wall and thuds against the far post. Terrific effort from the big PSG marksman.
87' - Cavani is brought down on the edge of the area. Perfect striking distance from goal, A whole huddle of menacing looking Uruguayans stand over it. This could be big!
83' - Substitution for Egypt, as winger Amr Warda makes way for Ramadan Sobhi. Salah is staying put this afternoon, folks.
82' - Elneny goes close after latching onto a loose ball in the box. It had been pinging around like a pinball before the Arsenal midfielder got hold of it, but he smackes his shot over the bar.
76' - Off the field, it's surprising to see one of the very first games, between two exciting sides, so empty.
73' - Suarez dances his way through the Egypt defense to go one-on-one with the goalkeeper. He hesitates, tries to samba his way beyond Elshenawy, too, but it proves a bridge too far. He might regret not pulling the trigger, there.
72' - Abdalla collects the ball deep inside the Uruguay half. He hops and skips his way around a challenge from Caceres before picking out Elneny on the far side. The Arsenal midfuielder gets completely chopped but, before the freekick can be given, captain Fatji races onto the loose ball and cracks a shot straight into the grateful arms of Muslera. Should probably have taken the freekick.
68' - Lovely defending from Godin, as ever. The Uruguay captain picks Kahraba's pocket and then holds off two players before winning a foul. Cool as ice at the back, there.
65 - "The Onion" almost makes an instant impact for Uruguay. He charges down the left flank and is picked out by Vecino. He whips in an early cross, with plenty of bodies to aim for in the box. Morsey is on hand to avert danger, however. I can feel a goal coming!
63' - More changes, it's Egypt this time.Mohsen Marwan makes way for Kahraba. He's wearing the no.9 jersey; he must be deadly!
58' - Double substitution from Uruguay. Nandez comes off after a quiet openeing spell to the second period. He's replaced by Carlos Sanchez. De Arrascaeta makes way, moments later, for Christian "The Onion" Rodriguez. No, we haven't made that nickname up.
55' - Trezeguet is growing into this game. The little winger makes a great run in behind the Uruguay defense and is found. His shot is a poor one, however.
52 - A promising Egypt move breaks down in the Uruguay box after some excellent work down the right-hand side from Trezeguet. These boys can certianly play, even without their star man, but can they stick the ball in the net?
50' - Tarek Hamed limps off after a painful-looking collision. Wolverhapmton-born Sam Morsy replaces him. I thought for a second we were about to see Big Mo whip his bib off, but alas!
46' - Things get underway once more in Yekaterinburg as Egypt kick-off. Salah remains bibbed-up on the bench for the time being. One imagines he might stay put should Uruguay fail to score this afternoon.
HALF TIME - A fun, frenetic first half is brought to an end by referee Björn Kuipers. No goals, but plenty of half chances at both ends. Uruguay look the better side but Egypt have a trump card still to play.
43' - A lovely move from Egypt breaks down thanks to some poor decision making and Uruguay counter in scintillating fashion. The ball finds De Arrascaeta in space on the left and the winger swings a lethal-looking cross into the box, but Egypt clear. This is end to end stuff!
39' - Diego Godin summons his inner-Beckenbauer as he waltzes out of defence, leaving Marwan in his wake. He then picks a sumptuous pass to release Giorgian De Arrascaeta on the left. The no.10 punts the ball straight out for a goal kick, though. Godin shoots him the look of a man whose mother has just been insulted.
36' - The first genuinely attractive move of the game. Uruguay take control inside Egypt's half, as Suarez spins a delightful ball over his shoulder and into the path of Nandez. The winger makes a hash of cross, however. Pity.
32' - Suarez smacks a freekick directly into the wall after being chopped down 30-yards from goal. It falls back to him and he does little good with it. Goal kick to Egypt.
28' - Some more no-nonsense defending from Egypt sees Suarez halted in his tracks in comedic fashion. He shimmies left and right and appears to have no idea the ball is no longer at his feet even after Ahmed Hegazy picks a pass moments after disposessing him.
24' - Almost! Suarez steers the ball wide at the far post following a corner. That looked so in I was even writing the word "goal" as a colleague informed me it hadn't actually hit the target.
22' - Not a great deal of quality thus far but it's been exciting thanks to some erratic defending from both sides. There are huge pockets of space behind both back-lines. Cavani almost breaks the deadlock after some neat skill on the edge of the area, but his effort is blocked.
16' - A freekick is awarded to Egypt after Abdallah El-Said is scythed down 30-yards from goal. A forlorn Salah watches on as Mohamed Elneny floats it to the back post. Poor decision. Uruguay head clear.
14' - Almost! Suarez picks the ball up in a pocket of space just isnide the Egypt half, he turns and releases Nahitan Nandez down the right. The winger finds Suarez again but the Barcelona forward can't keep his shot down.
12' - Now it's Egypt's turn to shoot. Tarek Hemed and Mohammad Elneny work the ball forward to Mahmoud Trezeguet. He wriggles free of his man but his shot is also a weak one.
8' - First shot of the game! Uruguay begin to assert a little dominance as their midfield puts together a series of neat passes. The ball finds its way to Cavani forward, who lurks menacingly near the edge of the Egypt penalty area. He spins away from his marker and lets fire, though his tame effort is easily gathered by Mohamed El-Shenawy.
6' - Cavani and Suarez exchange passes in their own half before the latter balloons a wasteful ball upfield and into the arms of keeper Mohamed El-Shenawy. It's been an erratic startm for both sides.
3' - Let them know you're there! An aggressive start by The Pharoahs as Cavani is chopped down by Tarek Hamed on the halfway line. They win the ball back immediately from the resulting freekick and win a throw-in high up the pitch. It fizzles out to nothing, however.
1' - We are off! The second game of group A gets underway as Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani get things going in Yekaterinburg. Will we see another 5-0 thrashing? That depends very much on whether either side defend as woefully as Saudi Arabia did last night.
13:30 CET: The lineups are in as we look forward to the second match of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, which also happens to be the second game in Group A.
The opener provided plenty of reason for the home supporters to cheer with that 5-0 Russian win over Saudi Arabia, putting them top of the group. Will we see a lot of goals this afternoon? The good news for Egypt is that Mo Salah is in the lineup, the bad news is, that he's not in the starting 11.