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AFCON 2023: VAR spares Egypt’s blushes in draw with Mozambique to begin Group B action

Mozambique came within minutes of the first major upset at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations and their first ever victory in the competition but a Mohamed Salah penalty kick equalized late for Egypt in a 2-2 draw to kick off Group B action in Abidjan. Goals from Witi and Clésio Baúque overturned a 1-0 halftime Egyptian lead created by Mostafa Mohamed’s early goal but The Pharaohs were saved by the intervention of the Video Assistant Referee and Salah’s spot kick to leave the teams even. Egypt will turn their attention to Ghana for their next match on Thursday while Mozambique look to earn their first victory against fellow Lusophone nation Cape Verde.

It was a dream start for the favorites who appeared to be heading towards a routine victory when they took the lead inside ninety seconds. A cross from Egypt left back Mohamed Hamdi fell to star Mohamed Salah who failed to connect with his first-time attempt but the ball fell to Mohamed, who brilliantly turned and fired past Mozambique goalkeeper Ernan Siluane to give The Pharaohs an early lead.

The Mambas did well to settle down after the early concession and proved they will be no pushover in Ivory Coast. Mozambique winger Witi failed on his attempt to head Reinildo Mandava’s 18th minute cross from the left wing but did well to smoothly collect the ball before firing wide of keeper Mohamed El Shenawy’s goal. El Shenawy had to be at his best to tip over in the 35th minute when Hamdi inadvertently touched Gildo’s cross towards the Egyptian goal.

Hard work from Mozambique paid off and the Mambas spectacularly turned the match on its head in the second half. In the 55th minute an attack on the right wing led to an accurate whipped cross from right back Domingos Macandza that found Witi for a brilliantly cushioned header that El Shenawy could only parry into the side of the net. Only a couple of minutes later Mozambique snatched the lead when halftime substitute Baúque beat Egypt center back Ahmed Hegazi to a Guima through pass and calmly slotted his finish past the helpless El Shenawy.

A stunned Egyptian team struggled to find their way back into the match and lacked ideas, sending hopeful crosses into the box that were well dealt with by the Mambas central defensive partnership of Mexer and Edmilson Dove. However a stroke of luck arrived for The Pharaohs in stoppage time when a cross was popped up into the air and Mohamed had his foot kicked as he attempted to play the ball in the box. A Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review led to a penalty kick for Egypt and Salah fired the spot kick in off the post to save a point for Egypt.

Highlights of the match are below.

Match Highlights

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