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Dream debut sees Omar Marmoush emerge as hero in crucial Egyptian win over Libya

Many Egyptian fans had been calling for Omar Marmoush to be given his chance in the national team setup, and new manager Carlos Queiroz’s selection of the 22-year-old in the starting lineup paid massive dividends as the Stuttgart forward delivered a brilliant strike to help the Pharaohs to a 1-0 FIFA World Cup qualifying win over Libya in Cairo. The crucial victory moves Egypt ahead of their neighbors into first place in Group F and gives them a one-point cushion heading into the return match in Libya. The Mediterranean Knights generally defended well but failed to be much of a threat in attack in the loss.

New manager Queiroz brought in Marmoush as well as Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny for a return to the starting lineup on the tactician’s competitive debut. Libya proved to be a tough team to break down and survived plenty of close calls from the Egyptian attack led by Mohamed Salah, leaving doubt as to whether the hosts would find the breakthrough.

The best chance for Egypt in the first half came in the 18th minute when Salah collected the ball on the corner of the Libyan penalty area and sent a brilliant inswinging cross to the far post, where striker Mostafa Mohamed was inches away from finishing but could not reach the service. Libya had one dangerous opportunity towards the end of the first period that provided a moment of intense anxiety for Egyptian fans. Mohamed Soula got free on the left flank and sent a cross in that was poorly dealt with by Egypt left back Ahmed El Fettoh. Fettoh missed his defensive header and allowed the ball to find Mohamed Zubya, who had time to line up a shot that clipped the shin of Pharaohs keeper Mohamed El Shenawy before bouncing off the post and clear.

Salah had a free kick just before halftime that was parried wide by Libya goalie Mohamed Nashnush, and the teams were deadlocked at 0-0 going into halftime. After the break it took less than five minutes before Marmoush provided his moment of magic. Amr El Soulia played a ball to Marmoush near the edge of the Libya penalty box, where the visiting defense was slow to close down the forward. Marmoush took a couple of dribbles before uncorking a blast that left Nashnush with absolutely no chance as the ball nearly burned a hole in the net.

The relief from the Egyptian team was clear to see as well as Marmoush’s joy. The hosts had few issues in holding out a Libyan side that had come to defend and failed to generate much going forward. Video of Marmoush’s brilliant strike is below.

Highlights from FIFA TV

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