Russia have all but booked their place in the Last 16 of their own World Cup after cruising to a 3-1 win over Egypt. Only miraculous results in the remaining Group A games will now keep them from getting to the knockout stages or prevent Egypt from going home early.
An own goal from Egypt captain Ahmed Fathy started the rout, before Denis Cheryshev’s third goal of the tournament and one from Artem Dzyuba made it 3-0. Mohamed Salah scored for Egypt – their first of the competition – from the penalty spot .
With Egypt ideally needing a win just to keep their World Cup dreams alive, all eyes before the game were on national hero Salah following his return to the starting XI after being forced to sit out the opening defeat at the hands of Uruguay last Friday.
The Liverpool man struggled, understandably so given his near month-long layoff, but he and Trezeguet both fizzed dangerous efforts narrowly wide in the first half.
Goal-less at the interval, the pressure in the opening 45 minutes had largely come from Russia in front of a raucous crowd in St Petersburg.
Most of Russia’s attacks focused on putting crosses into the box – a noted weakness of Egypt’s defence – towards target man Dzyuba, in from the start this time after an impressive performance off the bench against Saudi Arabia.
Fathy’s own goal right at the start of the second half was a nightmare moment for Egypt, with goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shenawy putting his team under pressure with a poor punch. A mishit shot from Roman Zobnin was then inadvertently turned in by Fathy as he battled with Dzyuba.
The crosses and the pressure continued thereafter and it was only a few minutes before Cheryshev’s simple first time finish doubled the Russian advantage after a low ball into the penalty area delivered by marauding right-back Mario Fernandes.
Poor defending was what gifted Dzyuba the third for Russia shortly after the hour mark, nicking the ball past centre-back Ali Gabr and firing with ease past the helpless El-Shenawy.
Salah later converted from the spot after VAR intervened to give Egypt a penalty when a foul had initially been awarded outside of the area. But despite a half-hearted late flurry from the Phraroahs, a consolation was all it proved to be.
Russia: Akinfeev, Fernandes, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Zhirkov (Kudryashov – 86′), Gazinsky, Zobnin, Samedov, Golovin, Cheryshev (Kuzyayev – 74′), Dzyuba (Smolov – 79′)
Egypt: El-Shenawy, Fathy, Gabr, Hegazi, Abdel-Shafy, Hamed, Elneny (Warda – 64′), Salah, Said, Trezeguet (Sobhi – 68′), Mohsen (Kahraba – 82′)