Three goals – an own goal from Ahmed Fathi and composed finishes from Denis Cheryshev and Artem Dzyuba – in 17 second half minutes gave the Russians a healthy lead, which was reduced from the penalty spot by the returning Mohamed Salah.
The return of Salah may have lifted Egypt but Russia had been lifted that much more with their open day 5-0 victory over Saudi Arabia. And again, it was the curse of an own goal that did the Africans in as the match was in the balance until Fathi threw an unfortunate boot
An unfortunate swipe of Fatah’s right foot saw Egypt condemned to a second straight defeat and almost the first country to seal their exit from Russia 2018.
The first half was a frenetic affair with Egypt having more than 60 per cent of the possession even though Russia looked the more dangerous.
Then Fathi’s right foot happened to an innocuous cross and the hosts were ahead. Egypt goalkeeper, El Shenawy was at fault for the mishap as he punched Golovin’s cross when he could have caught it. Zobnin’s follow-up shot was going well wide until Fathi’s attempted clearance went into the goal.
A slice of good fortune but the Russians were receiving gifts, what after the many they got against the Saudis last Thursday.
It was almost Salah time in the 56th minute but Kutepov produced a good block.
Salah was then bundled to the floor by Roman Zobnin in the 72nd minute – for which the referee first pointed for a freekick on the edge of the box before VAR overturned the decision for a penalty. The returning Salah rifled the kick past Igor Akinfeev and Egypt had a shard of light at the end of a dark tunnel.
There was another penalty appeal in the 78th minute when Kutepov seemed to wrestle Mohsen to the turf but the referee waved play. It was a frantic end to the match as Egypt sought another goal while the Russians operated on breakaways, hoping to score a fourth.
If Uruguay beat Saudi Arabia or even get a draw on Wednesday, then Egypt’s exit would be doubly confirmed.