Liverpool forward Salah, playing for the first time since sustaining a shoulder injury in the Champions League final, converted a penalty after he had been fouled – but it was not enough to mount an Egypt fightback.
The World Cup host Russia continued its blistering form, defeating Egypt 3-1 in Saint Petersburg Tuesday night and all but qualified for the knockout rounds for the first time since 1986, when it competed as the Soviet Union.
Ahmed Fathy own goal was followed by strikes from Denis Cheryshev and Artem Dzyuba sent Russia into an unassailable three-goal lead.
Cheryshev scored his third goal of the tournament to become the joint top scorer – with Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo – after fine work from team-mate Fernandes.
The Russians are ranked No. 70 in the world in FIFA’s rankings. They only qualified for the World Cup as a courtesy to the host nation. Their group draw — with Uruguay, Saudi Arabia and Egypt — was called the Group of Life; observers questioned if there was something rotten in the draw because of how favorable it was for Russia. And yet, the Russian were still expected to finish at the bottom of group. Now they have eight goals, and have only conceded one: a penalty shot from Egypt’s Mohamed Salah Tuesday night when there was too little time left for it to matter.
Salah looked some way short of his best as Egypt also failed to provide him with consistent service in the face of a spirited display from Russia, who now lead Group A with six points having beaten Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening game of the tournament.