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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Matheus Cunha’s excellent strike unlocks stubborn Egyptian defense, eliminates Pharaohs in Olympic quarterfinal round

Egypt continued their trend of being a difficult team to break down at the Olympic football tournament, but ultimately fell 0-1 to contenders Brazil due to their inability to create attacking opportunities on Saturday. Hertha Berlin forward Matheus Cunha provided the winning strike off a feed from Richarlison in the 37th minute to make the difference for the Brazilians and send them through to the semifinals. Despite the stout Egyptian defense keeping Brazil from increasing their lead, there just was not enough threat on the opposite end to concern the Brazilian side.

There were a few chances for Egypt to cause the Brazilian defense concerns, however, with the 13th minute seeing Akram Tawfik’s reaction header flying just wide of the diving Santos in Brazil’s goal. Brazil began to break down the Egyptian defense with more regularity after, with Antony’s shot from distance causing concern to keeper Mohamed El Shenawy. Towards the end of the first half it was Richarlison who had the ball outside the penalty area and sent a low cross centrally to an open Cunha, who had too much room to send a low shot past El Shenawy and put the Brazilians ahead.

After the halftime break Brazil began to turn up their attacking intentions to put the match away, but courageous defending and goalkeeping from the Egyptians was enough to keep the Brazilians within reach. Egypt were able to create a couple of speculative efforts, with Salah Mohsen being sent in on 69 minutes but the angle was always difficult for the Al Ahly forward to beat Santos and the keeper scooped up Mohsen’s effort with little trouble.

In the end there was not too much concern caused by Egypt to threaten Brazil’s lead and the favorites were through despite a bit of an underwhelming effort. Highlights of the match are below.