Russia on brink of last 16 at World Cup, beats Egypt 3-1

Russia on brink of last 16 at World Cup, beats Egypt 3-1

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Two wins, eight goals and almost certainly a place in the knockout stage for first time since the Soviet era.

Russia is enjoying quite the party at its own World Cup — and not even the highly anticipated return of Mohamed Salah could slow it down on Tuesday.

Confounding grim pre-tournament predictions, the host nation earned a second straight emphatic victory to start the group stage by beating Egypt 3-1. Having already routed Saudi Arabia 5-0, Russia is likely to be celebrating a spot in the round of 16 by Wednesday evening and few could have seen that happening so soon.

“It’s a group of solidarity and cohesion,” said Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov, who whipped up the crowd by waving his arms in delight on the field after the final whistle. “You mention difficulties, problems. We don’t like these words. We don’t have this in our vocabulary. We had some issues and we dealt with it.”

Like a string of pre-tournament injuries that ravaged the defence. Like a run of seven winless games heading into the tournament. The Russians started the World Cup as the lowest-ranked team at the tournament at No. 70, but they aren’t playing like it.

Three goals in a 15-minute span early in the second half did the damage against Egypt, with Ahmed Fathi poking the ball into his own net — the fifth own-goal of the tournament — to put Russia ahead in the 47th minute. Denis Cheryshev, with his third goal of the World Cup, and striker Artyom Dzyuba then scored in quick succession before Salah won and converted a consolation penalty in his first game back after 3 1/2 weeks out with a shoulder injury.

Salah needed to produce the type of performance he delivered nearly every week for Liverpool this season, when he scored 44 goals in 51 games, but it was clear from the start that he was staying out of anything too physical on his return from damaged ligaments in his left shoulder sustained in the Champions League final.

Aside from his goal, Salah was quiet in his first ever match at a World Cup, much to the dismay of the Egypt fans in the stadium who roared every time their star player’s face flashed up on the big screen and when his name was announced before kickoff. Not to mention the 90 million Egyptians back home.

“I was told by the medical staff that he was fit, feeling good,” Egypt coach Hector Cuper said. “He couldn’t prepare with us in the training camp, he had to train alone. Maybe that meant his total physical ability was reduced.”

Egypt’s first World Cup in 28 years could be over in barely five days, while Russia’s place in the round of 16 will be assured if Uruguay wins or draws against the Saudis on Wednesday.

Those two scenarios would also eliminate Egypt.

GROUP DYNAMICS

The match between Russia and Uruguay in Samara on Monday is likely to determine which teams finish in first and second place in Group A, with Spain and Portugal likely lying in wait in the round of 16.

As for Egypt, a first win at a World Cup at the seventh attempt is the aim when it plays Saudi Arabia in Volgograd on the same day.

KEY TO SUCCESS

Russia neutralized Salah in the tense but low quality first half, with Yuri Zhirkov dealing well with the Premier League’s player of the year particularly when he got in front to him to clear a dangerous cross early in the first half.

The Russians then took advantage of Egypt’s defensive mistakes to cruise into a three-goal lead out of nothing. Fathi’s attempted clearance for the first goal was sloppy, as was Ali Gabr’s attempt at closing down Dzyuba for the third goal.

Cheryshev, who entered the World Cup as a fringe player, is proving lethal in front of goal and is surprisingly tied as leading scorer with Cristiano Ronaldo.

SERIOUS STATS

The five own-goals at this year’s tournament is only one off the record for a whole World Cup, set in 1998.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City of Red Deer says its roundabouts have sharply reduced the number of injury collisions at a pair of busy intersections. Alberta Transportation wants to incorporate five roundabouts into plans to twin Highway 11 from Sylvan Lake to Rocky Mountain House. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Highway 11 roundabouts will increase safety based on Red Deer’s experience

Injury collisions sharply reduced at roundabout intersections in city

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
One new COVID-19 death in Red Deer, Alberta under 10,000 active cases

Alberta reported an additional 643 COVID-19 cases Friday. The province now has… Continue reading

About 110 students from Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools participated in March for Life rally in Edmonton May 9. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer high school has COVID-19 case

St. Joseph High School in Red Deer confirmed a positive COVID-19 case… Continue reading

Lacombe High School logo.
Two more COVID-19 cases at Lacombe Composite High School

Lacombe Composite High School confirmed two more positive COVID-19 cases at the… Continue reading

World Juniors’ referee Mike Langin makes a called during the Canada vs. Slovakia at the 2021 World Junior Championship at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Dec. 27, 2020. (Photo by Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada)
Former Sylvan Lake man lives his dream at World Junior Championships

Mike Langin was one the 25 Canadian officials who worked during the tournament

Former Alberta Premier Rachel Notley shakes hands with Joel Ward, former Red Deer College President and CEO, as Notley announces that the college is on the path to grant degrees. Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan says university status is not a necessary condition for offering degrees. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Future of Red Deer University increasingly uncertain

MLA’s college update says RDC more like SAIT and NAIT than a university

There are two confirmed COVID-19 cases at Red Deer College. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff
Central Albertans were promised a university

Central Albertans were promised a university

FILE - Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron sits for a portrait after receiving his COVID-19 vaccination at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, in this Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, file photo. Hank Aaron, who endured racist threats with stoic dignity during his pursuit of Babe Ruth but went on to break the career home run record in the pre-steroids era, died early Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. He was 86. The Atlanta Braves said Aaron died peacefully in his sleep. No cause of death was given. (AP Photo/Ron Harris, File)
Hank Aaron, baseball’s one-time home run king, dies at 86

Hank Aaron, baseball’s one-time home run king, dies at 86

Miami Heat guard Duncan Robinson (55) passes the ball around Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Powell, Raptors regroup after blowing lead, beat Heat 101-81

Powell, Raptors regroup after blowing lead, beat Heat 101-81

Tavares scores winner on power play, Leafs beat Oilers 4-2

Tavares scores winner on power play, Leafs beat Oilers 4-2

David Shoemaker, chief executive officer of the Canadian Olympic Committee, speaks during the Olympic Partnership kick off event at the Sobey's office in Mississauga, Ont. on Monday, October 7, 2019. Shoemaker says the IOC remains committed to staging the Summer Games in Tokyo this summer.THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin
Canada’s Olympic athletes try to tune out reports six months from Games

Canada’s Olympic athletes try to tune out reports six months from Games

Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley lifts the Voyageurs Cup after beating Vancouver Whitecaps 5-2 to win the Canadian Championship Final in Toronto on Wednesday, August 15, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Forge FC-Toronto FC Canadian Championship final to be played before April 6

Forge FC-Toronto FC Canadian Championship final to be played before April 6

Canada's Penny Oleksiak reacts after her heat of the women's 50m butterfly at the World Swimming Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, Friday, July 26, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Lee Jin-man
Penny Oleksiak, Kylie Masse among six swimmers named early to Canadian Olympic team

Penny Oleksiak, Kylie Masse among six swimmers named early to Canadian Olympic team

Ontario skip Glenn Howard watches a rock as they play Newfoundland and Labrador in draw 15 action at the Tim Hortons Brier curling championship at Mile One Centre in St. John's on Thursday, March 9, 2017. Curling Canada has decided to use the national ranking system as its selection criteria for the final wild-card berths at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts and Tim Hortons Brier.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Canadian rankings to be used to determine final wild-card spots at Scotties and Brier

Canadian rankings to be used to determine final wild-card spots at Scotties and Brier

Most Read