Mo Salah, Egypt End World Cup Run with 2-1 Loss vs. Saudi Arabia

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IJune 25, 2018

Egypt's forward Mohamed Salah looks down during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Saudi Arabia and Egypt at the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd on June 25, 2018. (Photo by NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS        (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia shocked Egypt with a 2-1 win in both teams' final game of the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Monday.

The result means Saudi Arabia finish in third place in Group A with three points while Egypt finish bottom and their wait to win a match at a World Cup finals goes on.  


The World Cup Will Miss Mo Salah's Star Power

Salah emerged as one of the brightest stars in European football last season, as he scored 43 goals in all competitions for Liverpool, who made it all the way to the final of the UEFA Champions League.

The Egyptian's pace, skill on the ball and clinical finishing were a feature of the Reds' play, and Salah was rightly lauded for his incredible campaign.

Big things were expected of Salah at the World Cup, but a shoulder injury picked up in the Champions League final against Real Madrid affected his campaign.

Salah missed Egypt's opening defeat against Uruguay but returned against Russia and scored a terrific penalty.

He scored again on Monday as he latched onto a ball from deep before dinking it over the goalkeeper for the opening goal.

Indy Football highlighted his formidable goalscoring record:

Salah should have had another three minutes later from a similar chance, but this time his nonchalant chip landed just wide of the post.

On current form, Salah is one of the best players in the world, and the World Cup will be a poorer place without the brilliant Egyptian in the knockout stages.


Essam El Hadary Is Feel-Good Story of the Tournament

Egypt goalkeeper Essam El Hadary made history on Monday as he became the oldest player to feature at the World Cup finals, per PA Dugout:

The 45-year-old then put in a performance that will live long in the memory for Egypt fans as he saved a penalty from Fahad Al Mulwallad.

The spot-kick was awarded for a handball, but El Hadary did superbly as he dived to the right and touched the ball onto his crossbar and away to safety.

Opta showed how he's just the fourth goalkeeper to save a penalty on his World Cup debut:

It was an incredible moment from El Hadary and one of the best feel-good moments of the tournament so far.

Saudi Arabia were awarded another penalty before half-time that Salman Al Faraj managed to convert, but it takes nothing away from El Hadary's display.


Saudi Arabia Redeem Themselves After Poor Performances

Saudi Arabi kicked off the tournament with a match to forget as they were thrashed 5-0 by Russia in the opening game.

While it was an impressive start by the hosts, it was a poor result for Saudi Arabia, who looked to be the weakest team in the competition.

Journalist Simon Kuper summed up their failings:

Saudi Arabia improved in their second group match and were only defeated by a Luis Suarez goal against Uruguay.

They took another step forward against Egypt, who missed the chance to win their first-ever game at a World Cup finals.

The Saudis may have been fortunate to level through a soft penalty given after Al Mulwallad had a tug at Ali Gabr, but they showed character to score from the spot, having already seen an effort saved.

The goal seemed to give the whole team a lift as they were the better team after half-time and dominated the second half.

The game looked to be heading for a draw until Salem Al Dawsari's winner deep into stoppage time handed Saudi Arabia all three points.

What's Next

Both teams will head away from Russia after failing to make the knockout stages. Egypt return to action in September when they face Niger in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying. Saudi Arabia's next scheduled fixture is not until January 2019 when they play North Korea in the Asian Cup.


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