Volgograd, Russia: Saudi Arabia pulled off a last-gasp 2-1 win over Egypt as the two sides departed from Russia on Monday, with the Saudis notching their first World Cup victory since 1994 and adding to the misery of Egypt’s prolific striker Mohamed Salah.
The Liverpool forward put Egypt ahead but wasted a golden opportunity to double the lead, giving Saudi Arabia the chance to claw their way back into the game that was settled by a 95th-minute winner by midfielder Salem Al-Dawsari.
The result meant Saudi Arabia finished third in Group A as they scored their only goals of the tournament and vastly improved on a 5-0 thrashing by hosts Russia in their opening game.
Egypt finished in last place with no points, a result likely to heap pressure on Argentine coach Hector Cuper.
It was a sad send-off for Salah who missed the opening game of the tournament with the injury he picked up during Liverpool’s Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid in May.
Both sides were already packing their bags before they met in the heat of the Volgograd Arena, having failed to pick up a single point between them in their previous group matches.
Nonetheless, Egypt’s hordes of supporters roared on Salah whenever he got near the ball and he opened the scoring in the 22nd minute when he raced on to Abdallah Said’s long pass and kept his cool to lob Saudi goalkeeper Yasser Al-Mosailem.
That was Salah’s second goal in the two games he has played in Russia and he should have had another almost immediately but somehow missed when put clean through.
He was made to pay for the wasted opportunity deep into first-half stoppage time when Colombian referee Wilmar Roldan awarded Saudi Arabia a penalty and Salman Al-Faraj converted from the spot.
Minutes earlier, Egyptian keeper Essam El-Hadary had marked his record-breaking appearance as the oldest player to play at a World Cup at 45 years of age with a spectacular save from another penalty, diving to his right and sticking out his left hand to shove Fahad Al-Muwallad’s strike on to the bar and away.
Saudi Arabia pressed for a winner in the second half but the game appeared to be heading for a 1-1 draw – which would have meant Egypt finished third in the group – until Abdullah Otayf teed up Al-Dawsari to angle his shot past El-Hadary.