Mo Salah forces own goal to get upper hand on Sadio Mane in World Cup playoff
The two Liverpool superstars did battle in the first-leg of their World Cup qualifying play-off with a place in Qatar later this year up for grabs for either side
Image: AFP via Getty Images)
It is advantage Egypt after the first leg of their World Cup qualifying play-off against Senegal ended 1-0 to the Pharaohs, meaning Mohamed Salah’s side hold a slender lead over Sadio Mane’s team going into the second-leg.
Friday night’s clash marked the first of two legs between the two sides with a place at the 2022 Qatar World Cup later this year the prize for the eventual victor.
While Salah and Mane were the main attractions, there was a whole host of Premier League talent on display. Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny was deployed in the middle of the park for the hosts, while Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy was between the sticks for Senegal.
The game saw two of Liverpool’s talismanic forwards face off for the second time in under two months as Salah’s Egypt sought revenge for their Africa Cup of Nations final defeat at the hands of Mane’s Senegal.
That contest in early February ended goalless after 120 minutes, with the penalty shootout going in favour of The Lions of Teranga.
While Reds fans would have watched on simply hoping both came away from the contest fully fit, the pair left it all on the line in a bid to boost the World Cup qualification chances of their respective nations.
In stark contrast to the last meeting, it took just four minutes for the deadlock to be broken this time around.
While Salah played a huge part in Egypt’s opener, it cannot be credited to the Liverpool star after his shot cannoned off the crossbar and back onto the leg of the unsuspecting Saliou Ciss who could do little to stop the ball bouncing off of him and over the goal-line. The opening exchanges passed Mane by with the 29-year-old making little contribution to his side’s efforts.
It was not until the 36th minute before Mane’s first real sight of goal, though the Reds winger fired high and wide over Mohamed El Shenawy’s goal. After a scintillating start, Egypt actually ended up being the side desperate to hear the referee’s half-time whistle due to a period of sustained Senegal pressure.
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The second half started in similar fashion and by the time the clock hit the hour mark, it was Salah who was struggling to make his mark as the visitors were camped inside the host’s half. Senegal failed to make their pressure count despite being dominant in possession.
Egypt clung on to their lead in dogged fashion, with Elneny putting in a trademark performance full of energy and tireless running to nullify the threat posed by the opposition. It leaves the tie finely posed ahead of the return leg next week.
Elsewhere, Ghana and Nigeria played out the first leg of their own World Cup qualifying clash in Kumasi in a contest that saw two of Africa’s biggest footballing nations go head to head. The pair endured a cagey affair that ended 0-0.