Sheikh Mohammed congratulates Egypt on World Cup qualification

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Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, took to Twitter to congratulate Egypt on their 2018 World Cup qualification.

The African nation completed the feat in dramatic fashion as Mohamed Salah converted a stoppage-time penalty to seal a 2-1 win and book his side’s trip to Russia next summer.

The Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates expressed his delight for the Arab nation on the popular social media network.

“Congratulations, Egypt & congratulations to all Arabs,” he tweeted.

“Qualifying to the World Cup. A beautiful Arabian night. You brought happiness to our hearts from the Gulf to the Ocean. Egypt, you are always grand.”

It’s been 27 years since Egypt’s last appearance in a World Cup.

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Liverpool star Mohamed Salah is Egypt's hero as dramatic brace secures World Cup spot

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Mohamed Salah

Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah converted a stoppage-time penalty to give Egypt a dramatic 2-1 win over Congo Brazzaville Sunday and a place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Salah put Egypt ahead during the second half in Alexandria only for Arnold Bouka Moutou to equalise two minutes from the end of regular time.

Victory gave Egypt an uncatchable four-point lead over Uganda in Group E with one round of fixtures remaining.

Uganda were held 0-0 by Ghana in Kampala Saturday.

Egypt last qualified for the World Cup in 1990 with the record seven-time African champions suffering numerous heart-breaking failures since.

The desperation to qualify was so great ahead of the Congo match that Argentina-born Egypt coach Hector Cuper admitted he was taking medication for high blood pressure.

“I am taking hypertension medicine due to the stress I suffer from continuing criticism,” he told reporters without specifying who his critics were.

“Life is full of stress, but the challenge of reaching the World Cup is the toughest stress I have faced.”

Egypt also beat Congo away and Ghana and Uganda at home to accumulate 12 points, with the only loss away to Uganda.

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Andre Silva passes up chance to shine for Portugal before benefitting from Ronaldo substitution

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Young Andre Silva has made an excellent start to his international career, coming into Saturday night’s World Cup qualifier against Andorra having tallied seven goals and one assist in his previous eight qualifying games.

So it didn’t raise too many eyebrows when manager Fernando Santos, who decided to rest Cristiano Ronaldo for this fixture, entrusted Silva with the responsibility of leading the line for Portugal in Andorra.

It ended up being a mixed bag from the young AC Milan forward, who impressed with his skill and his poise on the ball, but couldn’t find his scoring touch, forcing Santos to bring Ronaldo on at halftime – a move that ended up benefitting Silva as well, although he was lucky he wasn’t the one being brought off for Portugal’s talisman.

Here’s a look at Silva’s performance in Portugal’s 2-0 win.

Entrusted with leading the line, Silva endured a tough night in Andorra.

Entrusted with leading the line, Silva endured a tough night in Andorra.

EFFECTIVENESS

Against stubborn, defensive opponents, Silva found freedom to roam at the head of Portugal’s attack, often popping up on either wing or dropping deep to get on the ball. It was a performance that was both industrious and skillful, but Silva forgot his finishing boots.

He had his chances to score before halftime, and had he done so, Ronaldo wouldn’t have needed to come in and save the day.

It was a frustrating day for Andre Silva - until he scored.

It was a frustrating day for Andre Silva – until he scored.

KEY MOMENTS

33rd min CHANCE: Presented with a glorious chance to open the scoring – easily Portugal’s best chance of what had been a frustrating first half up to that point – Silva fluffed his lines.

The Milan forward, from yards out, actually caught a falling ball out of the air with a perfect volley – except for the fact that it went yards over the crossbar, when he really should have scored.

82nd min CHANCE: At this point, with Ronaldo having come on and scored, some of the pressure had been lifted off Silva’s shoulders, but he was still looking for a goal to erase the frustrations of his night.

Ronaldo gave him one on a platter, teeing Silva up after some good work on the right wing. only for the 21-year-old to blaze over from close range.

86th min GOAL: At long last, Silva’s wait for a goal came to an end. It was again down to Ronaldo, who changed the game completely after coming on at halftime. The Real Madrid star sent in a teasing cross from the left, and right-back Danilo’s header back across goal set Silva up for a tap-in.

What was impressive was Silva’s movement to get in that position – when Ronaldo crossed from the wing, Silva was almost right next to him, yet like any good striker he used his movement to find space in the box so that when Danilo’s header came to him, he was two yards out with no one marking him.

After missing plenty of chances, Silva finally got his goal right at the end.

After missing plenty of chances, Silva finally got his goal right at the end.

VERDICT

Silva came into this game having scored 9 goals in 15 senior starts for Portugal, so Santos was justified in starting him against perceived weaker opponents in Andorra and allowing Ronaldo to rest up for next week’s crucial clash against Switzerland.

However, the young forward didn’t do enough to repay his manager’s faith in him. He led the line well and found pockets of space to exploit, but his finishing let him down as he passed up chance after chance until there was finally one he couldn’t miss.

As they say for strikers, all that matters is the goals.

RATING: 5/10

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