The first teams to play their second game in the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia, were the hosts and their opponents Egypt. They clashed in a crucial encounter on Tuesday with the final scoreline of 3-1.
Russia ran rampant past Saudi Arabia in the opening game of this tournament. It appeared that they were still buoyant because of that victory. Starting the game strongly and aggressively is a sign of a team who believes in its abilities. Liverpool's winger Mohamed Salah was making his return to the starting lineup. His team, however, were taking their time in adjusting to the pace Russia was setting. Small mistakes were being pounced and everything was cheered by the crowd.
Meanwhile, Egypt after the ten-minute mark started to prod along. They tried to instill their gameplan and were not far from dictating the pace of the game. Their coach was shouting instructions from the sidelines. As the game progressed, the team seemed more organised, and that's when they started attacking too. Trezeguet found himself in some space and curled a shot past the post. It was the closest either team came to scoring. A warning sign for Russia, to tell them they're in a fight here.
Much of the first-half saw barbs being traded by either side, and constructive tactics taking place. If Salah wasn't getting the ball, Tarek Hamed or Mohamed El Neny were making their presence felt more in the midfield to make sure their attackers had a better position. Their biggest problem was how easily they were giving the ball away to Russia and this was costing them valuable time. Egypt more than Russia needed to win this game to have a chance of Round of 16 qualification. The hosts will have the superior goal-difference advantage regardless of them being on the same points.
They were the stronger side going into the break and were creating more chances. Salah was having a shot or two, so were his teammates. Regardless, of the efforts of the Pharohs, the teams went into the first-half with a goalless scoreline.
The second-half had a similar start to that of the first. But, this time Russia made it count. A low shot by midfielder Roman Zobnin was deflected in the Egyptian captain Ahmed Fathy. A night start to this half for them. Russia doubles their lead within ten minutes through Denis Cheryshev who finishes an excellent move started by Mario Fernandez. This was his third goal of the tournament and puts him alongside Cristiano Ronaldo as the top-scorer of the tournament.
Things only got bad to worse for Egypt as they conceded yet another goal. It seemed that the team didn't want to do this anymore. Their opponents Russia on the other hand did.
Artem Dzyuba justified his selection over Fyodor Smolov and scored a fantastic target-man goal. The game was done and dusted here. The hosts were putting on a show which was defying the odds and expectations.
Mo Salah who is playing his first World Cup seemed to be a shadow of his former self. He was unable to do the elementary things, and it was a shame that he wasn't confident about his shoulder. He did score one for his country but that was thanks to a penalty decision. VAR was used to revert the freekick to a penalty, which the 25-year-old comfortably put away. That was Egypt's first goal in the World Cup since 1990.
When the draw was made for the World Cup, most of the experts believed that Russia will not be able to make it into the knockout round. They have proved millions wrong and gained more support from their country with these commendable efforts.