Egypt had maintained a firm defense led by their experienced leaders composed from the squad’s overage players at the Olympics, but on Wednesday the attack finally kicked into gear and provided the goals needed for the Pharaohs to defeat Australia 2-0 and advance to the quarterfinal stage. Egyptian Premier League top scorer Ahmed Yasser Rayan struck just before halftime and then substitute Ammar Hamdy put the match away late on to get the job done for Egypt, helping them to overtake a struggling Argentina side on goal differential who could only draw Spain in Group C’s other match.
The Pharaohs came out with focus and intention early on, establishing themselves as the superior team who looked more capable of coming out on top. After a prolonged period of dominance in the first half the deserved opening goal came in the 44th minute. Playmaker Ramadan Sobhi received an aerial ball on the left wing and did brilliantly to dance around Olyroos center defender Harry Souttar by the end line, drawing the keeper out before crossing low to Rayan for a simple finish.
Victory was more in doubt for Egypt in the second half as Australia woke up and pressed with urgency, but could not find an equalizer due to solid defense and goalkeeping from Al Ahly’s Mohamed El Shenawy. Late on it was a couple of substitutes who crated the finishing goal in the 85th minute. Nasser Mansi cut inside from the right wing and shot low, causing Olyroos keeper Tom Glover to parry the ball back into the middle of the penalty area where Hamdy applied the finishing touch into an empty net to send the Pharaohs into celebration mode.
Highlights are below. Egypt will next take on one of the tournament favorites in the quarterfinals on Saturday, Brazil.