Uruguay edges Salah-less Egypt with late goal

Luis Suarez missed several chances for Uruguay in its World Cup opener, but Jose Gimenez's header defeated Egypt.

Uruguay's defender Jose Gimenez (R) celebrates scoring the opening goal against Egypt   -  AFP

Jose Gimenez bailed out Uruguay's all-star forwards with a 90th-minute winner to see off Egypt 1-0 in its World Cup opener Friday.

As it happened: Egypt vs Uruguay

Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani each passed up opportunities to clinch the points against a Pharaohs side that kept Mohamed Salah on the bench, but it was center back Gimenez who proved the hero.

After the excitement of Group A rival Russia's goal frenzy a day earlier, there was a serious lack of invention on show in Ekaterinburg.

Suarez missed two golden opportunities as goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shenawy excelled, before Cavani struck the post with a late free kick, seemingly sealing a point for Egypt in its return to the finals.

But Gimenez rose highest to meet a set-piece and bury a header past El-Shenawy, celebrating a fine end to a week in which he signed a new contract at Atletico Madrid.

Egypt offered little in Salah's absence and is now under pressure heading into a clash with Russia, while Uruguay — and particularly Suarez — can breathe a sigh of relief.


With Salah – who has been battling a shoulder injury – watching on from the sidelines, Egypt's approach was largely compact and somewhat rugged and the first chance came as Cavani worked El-Shenawy from 20 yards.

Suarez should have fired Uruguay in front at the midway point of the first half, but, when the ball dropped his way from a corner, he screwed a close-range effort into the side-netting.

Uruguay continued to labour in the attacking third before the break, while a healthy Egyptian contingent had only Salah's appearance on the stadium's big screen to cheer.

Suarez and his team-mates were quickly back on the front foot following the restart, though, and Cavani fed his strike partner for a low drive that El-Shenawy blocked bravely.

The Barcelona forward squandered another opportunity late on, forcing his way through the Egypt backline but failing in his attempt to round the goalkeeper.

And El-Shenawy again looked to have preserved a point with a sublime save from Cavani's thunderous volley, before the Uruguay attacker curled a free-kick against the post.

But Gimenez came to the rescue as he planted a header into the bottom-right corner, earning a hard-fought victory.


Key Opta stats: 

- Uruguay has won its opening match at a World Cup tournament for the first time since 1970, when it beat Israel.

- Egypt is still winless at the World Cup finals, failing to win five matches (D2 L3).

- Jose Gimenez's winning goal in the 90th minute was Uruguay's latest winning goal in a World Cup match since Daniel Fonseca's 92nd-minute winner against South Korea in June 1990.

- This was Oscar Tabarez's 16th World Cup match in charge of Uruguay – only one manager has managed more matches for a South American country at the World Cup (Mario Zagallo for Brazil, 20 games).

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