MOSCOW: Saudi Arabia scored a dramatic 95th-minute winner to beat Egypt 2-1 in the third and final Group A match of the FIFA World and finish their World Cup campaign on a high in Volgograd on Monday.
This is the first point Saudi Arabia has earned in five World Cup appearances that it advanced past the group stage since 1994. Sixty seventh-ranked Saudi Arabia finally managed to break their deadlock in the tournament and earn three points with a win over 45th-placed Egypt.
Egypt had moments to remember - a fine Salah goal and a brilliant Essam El Hadary penalty save, but they couldn't find a winner. Egypt were the one to draw the first blood via forward Mohamed Salah. A long ball over the top by Abdallah El Said split the defence and was calmly brought down by the Liverpool front man, who then masterly lifted it over the oncoming Saudi Arabian goalkeeper Yasser Al Mosailem in the 22nd minute.
Saudi Arabia should have been level five minutes before the break when Ahmed Fathy was penalised for handball just inside the box, even though the ball was fired at him from close range. Fahad Al Muwallad stepped up to take the resulting spot kick, but Essam El-Hadary was equal to the powerful effort and pushed it onto the bar before Egypt scrambled away.
Just five minutes later, and after a long look at the VAR screens Saudi Arabia were given another penalty. This time Faraj made the net bulge from the spot and the scores were levelled. It took 71 minutes for the Mexican waves to start, and really, the fans did well to last that long.
With the win over Egypt, Saudi Arabia finished at the third spot in Group A. However, the two sides will still have to head home as they had lost their opening two matches.
In another Group A clash, Uruguay swept aside Russia 3-0 at the Samara Arena to finish the group stage as leaders while the hosts slumped to their first defeat of the tournament. (With inputs from agencies)
Image credit: Reuters