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Russia kept their perfect start to the 2018 FIFA World Cup going with a 3-1 win over Egypt on Tuesday at Saint Petersburg Stadium despite Mohamed Salah’s return to the Pharaohs’ starting XI.
Egypt gave the World Cup hosts a firmer test than Saudi Arabia but still pulled away with a vital win after Denis Cheryshev scored his third goal in two matches.
An Ahmed Fathi own goal after half-time put Russia within reach of a second successive victory, only for Cheryshev and Artem Dzyuba to score within three minutes of each other and effectively seal their team’s place in the round of 16.
Salah made his first appearance of the World Cup, earning and converting a consolatory penalty in the 73rd minute, but he couldn’t make the difference for his side as they finished second-best.
Egypt’s Supporting Cast Need Salah Going Full Tilt to Succeed
The hype was as high as one would expect leading up to Salah’s start on Tuesday, but what could have been a fairy-tale comeback became a story of underperformance.
Manager Hector Cuper deemed the Group A opener against Uruguay too soon a return date for the star, and Salah’s World Cup effectively ended after 90 minutes, via Metro Sport:
Some aid from the video assistant referee ensured Salah at least finished with a spot-kick goal to his name, though it came after an uncharacteristically tame first half, per BBC 5 live Sport pundit Pat Nevin:
BBC 5 live Sport @5liveSport
“He looks like a shadow. So tentative”
Salah put his first real opportunity of the match wide of the Russian goal.
#RUS 0-0 #EGY
#RUSEGY live 📱📻https://t.co/26sSUXgjIY
Barely three weeks have passed since a tussle with Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos in the UEFA Champions League final defeat left Salah’s World Cup in doubt, and Tuesday’s display suggested all is still not right.
If not in a physical sense, then at least with the winger’s approach to the task at hand, as he appeared to not be at his voracious best all too frequently. The Match of the Day cast analysed a weak opening half from the attacker (U.K. only):
Match of the Day @BBCMOTD
It has been a tough half for Mo Salah.
What can he do after the break? #RUSEGY https://t.co/VXDea52WPy
Hopeful balls were lofted up to Marwan Mohsen, while T