ABIDJAN :Mohamed Salah scored a 97th-minute penalty to spare the blushes of Egypt as they rescued a 2-2 draw against Mozambique and denied their opponents a first ever Africa Cup of Nations win in a Group B clash at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium on Sunday.
Salah’s spot-kick went in off the post after Mozambique defender Domingos Macandza committed a foul in the box. The penalty was awarded following a Video Assistant Referee check.
Egypt made a fast start in Abidjan thanks to a goal inside two minutes from Mostafa Mohamed, but Mozambique made them pay for spurned opportunities by scoring twice in three second-half minutes through Witi and substitute Clesio Bauque.
But they were denied a first victory at the Cup of Nations in their 13th game as Salah kept his nerve.
“It’s heartbreaking to not win like that but it will only make us stronger. We are not thinking small, we are thinking big,” Mozambique midfielder Guima said.
Egypt now look ahead to a second pool fixture against Ghana on Thursday, while Mozambique meet Cape Verde on Friday.
There will be a huge sigh of relief in the Pharaohs camp following a game they largely dominated, but allowed Mozambique back into the contest in the second half.
Egypt went ahead when Salah had an uncharacteristically poor effort at goal, but as the ball fell to Mostafa Mohamed, he fired into the bottom corner of the net from 15 yards.
Egypt kept pushing for a second and Trezeguet’s low shot from 18 yards struck the outside of the post, but Mozambique were almost level when Pharoahs defender Mohamed Hamdi miscued a clearance that looped towards his own net and goalkeeper Mohamed El Shennawy pulled off brilliant diving stop.
Mozambique did find their equaliser against the run of play on 55 minutes when Witi rose unmarked from Macandza’s cross and guided a powerful header past El Shennawy.
They then turned the game on its head with a second three minutes later as they cut Egypt apart down the middle.
Guima fed a rampaging Clesio and the midfielder evaded a wild tackle by Ahmed Hegazi for a clear run on goal and he provided a composed finish.
Egypt came close to an equaliser when Hamdi Fathi’s clever flick looped onto the post and away, before they won the penalty that denied Mozambique one of the greatest shocks in Cup of Nations history.