Mohamed Salah got the better of Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane as Egypt beat Senegal 1-0 in the first leg of World Cup qualifying to take a slim lead over Dakar for Tuesday’s return.
The rematch between the two Liverpool strikers, six weeks after Senegal beat Egypt on penalties to claim their maiden Africa Cup of Nations title, saw Salah score the only goal.
He beat the offside trap to get on the end of a ball over Amr El Sulaya’s defence, hitting the bar before the rebound bounced off the knee of Senegalese defender Saliou Ciss and into the net for a dream start after four minutes.
But that’s all Egypt managed despite a capacity of 75,000 spectators at the Cairo International Stadium where Senegal proved more enterprising and will still feel confident of winning the aggregate tie and qualifying for the World Cup in Qatar.
Mane was central to most of his side’s attack and had an excellent chance eight minutes before half-time as a mazy run to the defense saw him open up space to shoot, only to slip as the moment vital and see his shot ball wide. .
He also had a chance at the far post early in the second half but failed to make contact with the tense Egyptian defence.
Senegal kept pressing until the final whistle in search of an equalizer and a potentially vital away goal, but were held at bay by a desperate defence.
The away goals rule is still used in African football although it has been withdrawn from competition in Europe this season.
Little spice in Jollof derby as Ghana and Nigeria draw
Regional rivals Ghana and Nigeria drew 0-0 in the first leg of the World Cup qualifiers in Kumasi on Friday, leaving the game tied when they meet in Abuja on Tuesday to decide a place in the World Cup.
Jollof’s derby, supposedly after the popular rice dish in both countries, did not produce much spice and will have left fans dissatisfied after a myriad of mistakes and poor decision-making that have scored the game.
The home side Ghana had more possession and chances but proved to be sloppy in their finishing.
They only tested goalkeeper Francis Uzoho twice, who was saved on a stinging 33rd-minute shot by Issahaku Fatawu and then in the 71st minute by Mohammed Kudus.
Nigeria’s best opener came to Moses Simon 10 minutes into the second half, but he squandered the chance to score a vital away goal.
Nigeria were awarded a penalty 15 minutes from time when Idrissu Baba Mohamed handled the ball after it was tripped in his own penalty area, but after a VAR check the referee changed his decision and awarded a free kick in Ghana.
Ghana were playing their first match under new coach Otto Addo, who had former Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton as a consultant.
He made his debut with AS Roma teenager Felix Ohene-Gyan and 33-year-old former Belgium defender Denis Odoi, who switched sides ahead of the two-legged qualifier.
Leicester City’s Ademola Lookman, who previously played for England at U21 level, made his Nigeria debut as a substitute in the final 15 minutes.
Giroud on the spot in France’s comeback win over Ivory Coast
Olivier Giroud defied doubters again as he marked his return to France by scoring his 47th international goal as the world champions beat Ivory Coast 2-1 in a friendly on Friday.
Giroud, who hadn’t been called up since his country were knocked out in the round of 16 of the European Championship last year, canceled out Nicolas Pepe’s opener to come within four goals of Thierry’s goalscoring record Henry for France before Aurélie Tchouameni finished. victory in stoppage time.
The AC Milan striker, who rarely disappointed coach Didier Deschamps despite having limited playing time at Chelsea, has been brought into the squad following the injury to Karim Benzema.
He started alongside Christopher Nkunku as Kylian Mbappe sat on the bench after suffering an ear, nose and throat infection earlier this week.
France got off to a shaky start, but once they found their rhythm more threatened than their opponents, Paul Pogba and Tchouameni led the midfield into a crowded Stade Vélodrome.
Pepe burst into the box and fired a low cross shot from the near post that beat goalkeeper Hugo Lloris after 19 minutes as the French defense were caught napping.
It took three minutes for France to react with Giroud heading home from club mate Theo Hernandez for the equaliser. The Blues kept pushing and Nkunku went close in the first half but his header went too high.
They were rewarded, however, three minutes into added time when Tchouameni headed his first goal in eight appearances from a Matteo Guendouzi corner.
France will face South Africa in Lille on Tuesday as they continue preparations for this year’s World Cup in Qatar.