Mohamed Salah’s first half strike was all what Egypt needed to defeat Ghana in Port-Gentil on Wednesday as both sides guaranteed qualification to the quarter final.
Salah converted a freekick brilliantly after 11 minutes to give The Pharaohs their second win ofvthe tournament to go top of Group D with seven points, one richer than second placed Ghana who had guaranteed their qualification prior to the game. Mali had two points compared to Uganda’s one as both sides crashed out of the tournament after playing to a 1-1 draw in a simultaneous kickoff in Oyem.
Egypt now will face Morocco in an all North Africa quarter final next Sunday, while Ghana set an exciting appointment with DR Congo in Oyem at the same day.
Egypt started the match positively, and had the first chance after just three minutes when Mohamed Elnenys shot from 20 yards went just hight. Five minutes later Ghana’s midfielder Ageymang Baduvtried his luck with a similar fate
Salah would then guve The Pharaohs an early lead. The A.S Rona winger took a freekick from the brink of the area beautifully to break the deadlock with Razak Brimah between Ghana’s posts completely beaten.
The Black Stars controlled most of the possession afterwards in search for the equalizer, but faced a solid Egyptian defense led by the tall duet of Ahmed Hegazy and Ali Gabr. And despite Ghana’s upper hand Marawan Mohsen could have doubled Egypt’s lead after 39 minutes.
Brimah failed to clear his area to grant the ball to Mohsen, but the later’s shot flew over the crossbar.
Ghana suffered a blow when veteran captain Asamoah Gyan strained his thigh to be replaced by Jordan Ayew three minutes before yhe break. And seconds later Andre Ayew sent a cross on Daniel Amartey’s head, but he missed the target from three yards away. The first half ended with Egypt leading by a lone goal.
Ghana returned from the break with more ontentionand had the second half’s first chance after 58 minutes when Christian Atsu dribbled past two defenders, but failed to find the decisive shot with Egypt’s veteran goalkeeper Essam El Hadary not bothered.
Atsu continued to be Ghana’s dangerman, and at the hour mark he laid the ball to Jordan Ayew in the vital area, but for Gabr’s timely clearance.
The tide was all in Ghana’s way, and after 68 minutes Badu fired a tremendous shot to find the safe hands of 44 years old El Hadary.
A few seconds before full time the Egyptian icon El Hadary was recalled again to stop Ayew’s shot, as The Pharaohs marched to a crucial victory.