By 90Min
June 15, 2018

Uruguay got their World Cup campaign off to a winning start as a late Jose Gimenez header proved decisive against an Egyptian team lacking a cutting edge in the absence of Mohamed Salah.

The big team news ahead of the game was that Salah would not be risked for Egypt, starting on the bench only. 45-year-old Essam El-Hadary was denied the opportunity to become the World Cup's oldest ever player as Mohamed El-Shenawy started in goal. There were no surprises for Uruguay, with Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani up front together.

Egypt striker Trezeguet got the first shot on target but it was an easy one for Fernando Muslera to deal with as the game started in cagey fashion. A more clear-cut chance fell to Suarez shortly afterwards but he failed to get hold of it and it flew wide of the mark.

Egypt were holding their midfield structure well and attacking at pace, though they were clearly missing Salah to provide a bit of magic. Cavani resorted to trying his luck from range with a good effort that deflected out for a corner. The corner reached Suarez at the back post but he missed a gilt-edged chance as he fired into the side-netting from close range.

Matias Vecino shot wide from distance for Uruguay as they struggled to build momentum. Diego Godin was forced to bring the ball out of defence and then yelled at his teammates as their sloppy play brought attacks to a halt. Referee Bjorn Kuipers brought an end to a disappointing first half after one minute of added time.

Suarez could have made amends for his sub-par first half within 60 seconds of the restart as Cavani released him on goal and the Barcelona striker showed good hunger but couldn't beat El-Shenawy.

Egypt were forced into the first substiution of the match as Tarek Hamed, who had picked up a knock at the end of the first period, went down again under a challenge. Wolverhampton-born Wigan Athletic midfielder Sam Morsy replaced him. 

Uruguay's attacking impotence forced Oscar Tabarez to make two changes before the hour mark, with Nahitan Nandez and Giorgian de Arrascaeta replaced by Carlos Sanchez and Cristian Rodriguez.


Egypt captain Ahmed Fathi unleashed a decent strike from range which tested Muslera before Suarez should have given Uruguay the lead at the other end. Cavani played him in brilliantly but Suarez waited too long and was foiled as he tried to take the ball around El-Shenawy.

It was the sort of game that Salah could have changed, but he didn't make it off the bench as Egypt made their remaining changes. The best save of the match came in the 83rd minute as Cavani unleashed a stinging volley which El-Shenawy, a contender for man of the match, tipped around the post.

Cavani again came within inches of winning the match with an excellent late free kick which bounced back off the post and somehow eluded a group of Uruguayan players clamouring to put the ball in the net.

But it didn't matter. Another free kick, whipped in by Sanchez, was powered into the net by the head of Jose Gimenez. It was a goal that Uruguay barely deserved, but Egypt were left to rue not taking a gamble on Salah.

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