Salah’s Goal Puts Egypt on Top of Group E

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  •  Black Stars hammer Congo 5-1

A solitary strike from Mohamed Salah handed Egypt a 1-0 win over Uganda in their fourth Group E match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers at the Borg El-Arab Stadium in Alexandria yesterday,

In the wake of the victory, the Pharaohs now return to the top spot with nine points from four matches and have boosted their chances of booking a spot in Russia.

With both sides chasing an early goal, it was the hosts who were quick off the mark as Salah netted from a rebound in the sixth minute after goalkeeper Denis Onyango initially denied him from close range.

In the 19th minute, Moses Basena’s men started to come out of the blocks and nearly caught their hosts napping when a good cross from the right found Derrick Nsibambi, but his header went over Essam El-Hadary’s cross bar from close range.

With three minutes to the half-hour mark, Onyango showed his class when he denied Gamal from a powerful header in the box and later blocked Raadan Sobhi’s second attempt after a great delivery from Ahmed Fathi.

Both sides were stable in defence after their return from the tunnel, but Salah tried a long range effort in the 58th minute but failed to hit the target.

In the group’s other game yesterday, Thomas Partey and Richmond Boakye turned on the style at the Stade Municipal de Kintélé yesterday as Ghana hammered Congo 5-1.

The victory moves the Black Stars to the third position of Group E on five points.

Partey bagged a hat-trick in Brazzaville to make it four in two matches against the Red Devils with Boakye grabbing a double for the rampant West Africans. Vladis-Emmerson Illoy-Ayyet scored Congo’s solitary effort.

Both teams showcased early signs of urgency knowing the importance of the clash, following their 1-1 stalemate in Kumasi last Friday.

Congo’s Thievy Bifouma and Césaire Gandzé testing Ricard Ofori in the 10th minute, but on both occasions the goalkeeper was well positioned to deny the hosts.

Without the influential trio of Jordan Ayew, brother Andre and captain Asamoah Gyan missing the clash due to reported sickness and injury respectively – many would’ve written off Ghana’s chances, but their absence handed two rising starts the opportunity to shine.

Boakye scored the game’s opener in the 23rd minute as the Serbia-based forward was left with the easiest of finishes after the ball landed fortuitously at his feet in the penalty area.

Ghana doubled their lead three minutes later through Partey. A carbon-copy of the first goal, the Atletico Madrid man powered home after Boakye’s deflected effort fell into his path.

Illoy-Ayyet pulled a goal back for the hosts in the 43rd minute. Unmarked at a corner-kick, the towering defender pounced to guide his header into the back of the net.

Their joy, though, was short-lived as Partey restored Ghana’s two-goal lead in the second minute of added time. The midfielder guiding his shot past Barel Mouko from an acute angle following a pin-point through ball by Christian Atsu.

The Red Devils tried desperately to find a way back into the game following the interval, but suffered a sucker punch in the 69th minute as Partey completed his treble. The burly playmaker charging through the heart of the Congolese defence before firing an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net.

Things went from bad to worse for the hosts as Boakye completed his brace in the 85th minute. Harrison Afful’s lung-busting run down the right flank rewarded with an composed finish by the Ghanaian marksman.

Defeat brings an end to Congo’s hopes of qualifying for next year’s showpiece.