YEKATERINBURG, Russia (AP) — Uruguay won its opening match at the World Cup for the first time in 48 years, getting an 89th-minute goal from defender Jose Gimenez in a 1-0 victory over Egypt in Group A on Friday.
Gimenez jumped in the area and headed home a free kick from Atletico Madrid teammate Diego Godin. It was the first time Uruguay won its opening match at the tournament since 1970, when it went on to reach the semifinals.
Russia leads Group A on goal difference after beating Saudi Arabia 5-0 on Thursday in the tournament’s first match. Uruguay, which also has three points, is now second.
Egypt forward Mohamed Salah was on the bench for his country’s first World Cup match since 1990 after injuring a shoulder while playing for Liverpool in last month’s Champions League final. Salah was the Premier League’s player of the season after scoring a league-leading 32 goals, with 44 in all competitions.
He left the Champions League final in tears on May 26 after he was injured during a collision with Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos.
At the other end, Uruguay strikers Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani missed their chances. Suarez failed to beat Egypt goalkeeper Mohamed El Shennawy in two one-on-one situations and Cavani hit the post from a free kick two minutes from the end.
Egypt, which had zero corner kicks in the match, has yet to win a World Cup game. It managed two draws at the 1990 tournament and left empty handed in 1934.
KEY TO SUCCESS
Uruguay won but doubts about the team’s attacking qualities remain.
Cavani and Suarez didn’t receive the support they needed and at times had to return to the middle of the field as playmakers, not a role for a duo which has combined for 93 international goals.
With its traditional defensive tactics preferred by coach Hector Cuper, Egypt badly needs Salah and his goals to succeed. Marwan Mohsen as a lone striker is not likely to be enough for the team at this year’s tournament.
Expected to dominate Group A, Uruguay made its first step toward the next round.
Anything but a win against Saudi Arabia on Wednesday would be a surprise. With a victory, Uruguay could reach the next stage with a game in hand against host Russia on June 25.
To have any hopes of advancing, Egypt needs to avoid a loss against Russia on Tuesday and probably beat Saudi Arabia on June 25 in its final group game.
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