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Late drama! Mo Salah saves Egypt with penalty – after clumsiest assist of his career

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Mohamed Salah came away from Egypt’s Africa Cup of Nations opener with a goal and a dubious assist, scoring a last-minute equaliser from the penalty spot.

Egypt are widely considered one of the favourites to win this year’s AFCON, though true to the tournament’s heritage, things did not pan out as predicted on Sunday.

Up against Mozambique in their Group B opener, they took the lead after just two minutes through Nantes striker Mostafa Mohamed, with Salah credited with an assist.

In reality, the Egypt captain’s assist was a mishit shot that scuffed into the path of Mohamed, who swivelled and fired home to make it 1-0 early on.

Both sides had further chances in the first half, with Salah tasked with creating from a slightly deeper role behind the striker, but the next goal came after the break.

There were, in fact, two in quick succession for Mozambique, with Witi and Clesio Bauque turning the tie on its head and threatening an upset.

Salah had an opportunity to level with 82 minutes on the clock, but his volley was skewed wide, only for Egypt to be handed a penalty in stoppage time.

A lengthy VAR check led to Salah stepping up on the spot, and amid scrutiny over his penalty record, he hammered in off the post.

Mohamed Salah of Egypt during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations group D match between Egypt and Sudan at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo on January 19, 2022 in YAOUNDE, Cameroon. (Photo by SF)

That will prompt debate over whether it was fortune or expertise, with the 31-year-old having also seen a spot-kick hit the bar and go in off the goalkeeper’s backside in a warmup friendly against Tanzania.

But it matters not for Egypt, who salvaged a point in dramatic circumstances to kick off the group stage.

After the first round of fixtures they sit second in Group B, with Cape Verde top after sealing a shock victory over Ghana later on Sunday night.