Egypt’s hopes of qualifying for the last eight of the Olympic football tournament took a blow as they drew 1-1 with New Zealand at Old Trafford after wasting several chances.
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Egypt fell behind to a 16th minute strike from West Brom’s Chris Wood, but Mohamed Salah equalised from close-range at the end of the first half.
The Africans could have had at least seven goals by the final whistle but a mixture of last-ditch Kiwi defending, and some awful finishing from Egypt, meant they had to settle for a draw in what was a poor-quality contest.
Egypt will have to beat the Europeans on Wednesday to qualify for the quarter-finals, while minnows New Zealand must defeat the South American side to progress from Group C.
Egypt dominated the opening 15 minutes, with Ahmed Fathi and Salah combining to create a couple of openings but New Zealand goalkeeper Michael O’Keeffe kept the pair out.
Mohamed Aboutrika found space on the edge of the New Zealand box after 13 minutes but he shot woefully wide.
Egypt were made to pay for the profligacy three minutes later when Michael McGlinchey’s corner found Wood at the back post via Tommy Smith and the West Brom man’s miscued shot squeezed past Ahmed Elshenawi.
Saleh Gomaa and Fathi both wasted chances to level but Egypt got the equaliser they deserved six minutes before the break when Aboutrika found Salah, who brushed past his marker at the back post before stabbing home past O’Keeffe.
Fathi powered a fierce drive just over O’Keeffe’s bar after half-time and the Oly-Whites’ stopper also pulled off a stunning save to tip over Emad Meteab’s header.
New Zealand had a rare chance in the 78th minute when McGlinchey was left unmarked at the back post but he directed his diving header straight at the Elshenawi.
Meteab rounded the keeper in injury time, but he dallied and, hounded by three defenders, he blazed over the open goal. The miss was so bad that five of his team-mates fell to their knees in disbelief.