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Dream start gives Egypt a one-goal advantage over Senegal before second leg in Dakar

Friday’s highly anticipated rematch of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations final took place with a 2022 FIFA World Cup bid on the line and Egypt emerged victorious in the first leg by a 1-0 score in Cairo. The vocal Egyptian crowd took some time for Senegal to adjust to and the Pharaohs got off to a dream start with an own goal from the visitors inside five minutes. Egypt will hold on tightly to their narrow lead when the teams meet again in Senegal on Tuesday.

Senegal were understandably favorites heading into the tie but it was always going to be difficult in front of a 60,000-strong crowd at the Cairo International Stadium, and the hosts came out looking to strike quickly. Star forward Mohamed Salah was everywhere in the early exchanges and the Liverpool player caused the goal that came before four minutes had elapsed. Al Ahly midfielder Amr El Solia lofted an exquisite pass to find Salah’s run, whose shot slammed off the crossbar before rebounding back in off the thigh of Senegal left back Saliou Ciss.

The Senegalese did well to find their composure after the rough start and worked their way back into the match. Both teams neutralized each other for long stretches but the Lions of Teranga produced a couple of opportunities before halftime. A 35th minute set piece led to a furious scramble in front of the Egyptian goal but the defense did excellently to keep goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy from having to face a shot.

Just before halftime Idrissa Gana Gueye’s shot following a Bouna Sarr set piece deflected towards Famara Diédhiou but the striker’s first touch failed him at the crucial time. Sarr was the architect of another close opportunity for Senegal after star forward Sadio Mané’s header from a corner kick was cleared out wide, the Bayern Munich wide player sending a perfect cross to the far post. However, Diédhiou could only head the ball into the side netting from close range.

Egypt held off the illustrious Senegalese attack and will attempt to do it again in front of a hostile crowd on Tuesday. Highlights from Cairo are below.


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