World Cup: Saudi Arabia 2 Egypt 1 - 5 things you need to know

Egypt's Marwan Mohsen in action with Saudi Arabia's Osama Hawsawi in the Volgograd Arena, Volgograd, Russia, on June 25, 2018.
Egypt's Marwan Mohsen in action with Saudi Arabia's Osama Hawsawi in the Volgograd Arena, Volgograd, Russia, on June 25, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

With Uruguay and hosts Russia having already qualified from Group A, the encounter between Saudi Arabia and Egypt was nothing more than a dead rubber with only pride to play for. It looked set to be heading for a draw until a dramatic late winner for Saudi deep into stoppage time as Egypt were sunk 2-1.

1. The goals

Saudi Arabia (Salman Alfaraj 45th minute penalty, Salem Aldawsari 90th) Egypt (Mohamed Salah 22nd)

2. The wow moment

This was meant to be Salah's game and the Liverpool forward certainly took his goal well with a cool lobbed finish. Whenever he raced forward, the stadium roared. But it was Saudi Arabia's Salem who provided the definitive moment of the game when he grabbed the winner five minutes into stoppage time. As the ball was cushioned to him inside the box, the 26-year-old, nicknamed the 'Neymar of the Gulf', showed good technique to ram the ball home.

3. The talking point

Colombian referee Wilmar Roldan made two gutsy calls by awarding the Saudis two penalties towards the end of the first-half and got both decisions right. The second decision, in particular, was a stressful one as Ali Gabr made slight contact with forward Fahad Almuwallad but it was enough to send the Saudi player crashing inside the box. After three minutes of deliberation, including taking input from the VAR referees, Roldan pointed to the spot and rightly so.

4. The star

Essam El-Hadary had already made history as the oldest player to compete at the World Cup when he was named in Hector Cuper's starting XI. But the 45-year-old iced the cake by diving to his right to parry Fahad's 41st min penalty to safety. The goalkeeper is known to train relentlessly and his dedication to his craft was there for the whole world to see. His reflex save in the 69th min, tipping over Hussain Almoqahwi's powerful header, was another highlight in his Man of the Match display.

5. What the result means

Both Saudi Arabia and Egypt will head straight to the airport departure lounge after this game. Saudi may have won but as their earlier games showed, they lacked the experience to beat Uruguay and the physical power to outmuscle the Russians. As for Egypt, so much depends on Salah to the extent that the Liverpool man must sense a kindred spirit in another left-footed wizard who plays for an average team at this World Cup - Lionel Messi.