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Own goal lifts Egypt over Gabon for a win to close out WCQ group stage

With English Premier League stars Mohamed Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang absent from the starting lineups, Egypt defeated Gabon in Alexandria in a battle between rotated squads. Afsha’s penalty and Jim Allevinah’s second half equalizer made it appear that the teams were heading for a draw, but a late own goal helped the Pharaohs to victory in front of a small home crowd on Wednesday. Egypt ends the group stage on top of Group F with fourteen points and Gabon finishes in second place on seven points.

It did not take long for the game’s first notable event to take place. Ahmed Yasser Rayan made a threatening dribble run into the Gabonese penalty area and cut past before a retreating Denis Bouanga before the attacker tripped Rayan up with a clumsy challenge. Al Ahly playmaker Afsha then had no issues sending Gabon keeper Jean Amonome the wrong way for the opening goal. It seemed like Egypt might double their lead in the 23rd minute but Marwan Hamdy placed a free header just wide from left back Mohamed Hamdy’s cross.

Gabon started to get themselves back into the match after the half hour mark. Aaron Boupendza collected a pass in the box from Louis Ameka Autchanga and his shot was deflected wide before Egyptian keeper Mohamed El Shenawy had to come up with a save from the resulting corner kick. The Panthers continued to push after halftime and found the leveler in the 54th minute when Bouanga was sent in on the right wing and drove a low hard cross through the six-yard box. After the cross got past El Shenawy, a fierce scramble for the ball ensued with Allevinah cleverly backheeling the ball into the goal as he was wrestled to the ground.

The visitors would end the match frustrated when Egypt found their winner in the 74th minute thanks to some good fortune. Afsha dribbled towards the edge of the penalty area and attempted to find a running Mohamed Salah in the area, on as a substitute. The pass was behind Salah, but defender Johann Obiang was trailing the Liverpool star and could not get his feet right as the ball deflected off of him and just beyond a flailing Amonome for an own goal. Egypt held off Gabon with their cause being helped by Bouanga’s dismissal for two yellow cards in the span of two minutes late on.

Highlights are in the link below.

Highlights from FIFA TV

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