Egypt needed a win to guarantee their place in the knockout stages of the AFCON via second place – but they would have to do so without their injured talisman Mohamed Salah, and found themselves facing a confident Cape Verde side with an unexpected 100% win record so far in the tournament.
Having failed to win their first two group games at AFCON for the first time since 1992, Egypt knew they needed a quick start to settle any nerves, and almost got exactly that when Mohamed latched on to Zizo’s cross to power a header over the bar from close range.
Starting at a lacklustre pace, the Blue Sharks looked like a team that had already secured top spot in Group B, and had Vozinha to thank for not finding themselves behind 20 minutes in, when the veteran keeper first denied Omar Marmoush from long range.
He thwarted Mohamed on the rebound, and that reaped dividends, as Cape Verde then produced a sucker punch of a goal in first half stoppage time. After barely having a sight of Egypt’s final third, Benchimol found enough space in the area to swivel and fire the ball into the bottom corner to score his first goal of the tournament right on the stroke of the interval.
It was an inspired Rui Vitória half-time substitution that got Egypt back into the game following the restart. Shortly after his introduction, Trézéguet was set through on goal by an Ahmed Hegazi pass and the forward made no mistake by putting the ball through the legs of Vozinha to restore parity.
Having swung the momentum back towards the seven times AFCON champions, Trezeguet almost gave his side a deserved lead on the hour mark, when his looping effort was just about tipped over the bar by the impressive Vozinha.
Just as Egyptian fans had given up hope, Mohamed produced a moment of magic in stoppage time to control Trezeguet’s through ball and dink the onrushing Vozinha to make it 2-1 – albeit after a nervy VAR check.
But there was more drama to come after Bryan Teixeira pounced on a Mohamed El Shenawy mistake to draw the game level in the ninth minute of stoppage time. To the relief of the Egyptian fans, this late equaliser didn’t stop the Pharaohs’ qualifying in second place after Ghana drew with Mozambique 2-2 in the night’s other Group B finale.