In what might prove to be their most difficult test of 2014 World Cup qualifying, Egypt kept their cool after conceding early and produced a sublime performance to take full points
A brace from Mohamed Aboutrika and a last-minute strike from Mohamed Salah allowed Egypt to overcome goals from Guineans Abdoul Razzagui Camara and Thierno Bah in a thrilling encounter at the Stade du 28 Septembre in Conakry.
Guinea began confidently in front of their home fans but the experienced Egyptians were hardly overawed by their opponents and kept their composure despite coming under pressure in the early going. Michel Dussuyer’s side concentrated most of their attacks on Camara’s left wing but lacked a scoring threat at centre forward.
Five minutes into the match, Guinea had their first chance when Naby Soumah was put clear through on goal but failed to get the ball under control before Issam Al-Hadari’s intervention. The Egyptians replied shortly thereafter with Aboutrika providing a trademark through ball for Salah but confusion between him and Geddo led to a needlessly squandered opportunity.
Bob Bradley’s team were promptly made to rue the mistake as the Syli Nationale were then awarded a controversial penalty when the match official ruled that Ibrahima Traore was taken down by Hosni Abd-Rabo in the penalty box. Camara stepped forward and scored the opener despite Al-Hadari guessing the right way and getting a touch.
Guinea’s advantage evidently filled the Pharaohs with a great desire to equalise and the urgency showed in their play as they exerted near total control in midfield for much of the first half but couldn’t translate their dominance into goals. Geddo came the closest to scoring but his left footed shot hit Naby Yattara’s post on the stroke of 37 minutes.
Guinea initially looked more settled in the second half but it didn’t take long for them to once again surrender the midfield to the visitors. Salah had a chance just four minutes after the break but, despite being well placed, his weak shot was straight at Yattara.
The west African goalkeeper had more to do on 57 minutes but could only parry a shot into Ahmed Temsah’s path. The El Daklyeh midfielder took one touch before finding an oncoming Aboutrika who equalised from a close range.
Yattara later compounded his mistake by making another, kicking Abd-Rabo to earn himself a red card and offer the Pharaohs a chance to take the lead from the penalty spot. Like he has for much of his career, Aboutrika took responsibility and was successful in doing so, finding the net past backup ‘keeper Abdul Aziz Keita. On the other end, Al-Hadari had to make some saves after some momentary lapses in concentration by Bradley’s players.
It looked as if Guinea were out of ideas but an individual moment of brilliance from Thierno Bah brought things level. The Lausanne player dribbled skilfully past three Egyptian defenders and blasted a vicious shot past Al-Hadari to tie things up at 2-2 in minute 89. Egypt’s precious away victory seemed to be slipping through their hands when Salah procured a one-on-one situation with an intelligent run and scored the winner with what was literally the last kick of the game.
With that, Egypt became only the second African team alongside Tunisia to have registered away wins in 2014 World Cup qualifying thus far. Algeria could join the Arab duo in that distinction should they overcome Mali in Ouagadougou.