Salman scored from the penalty spot and Salem from the last kick of the game to overcome Egypt who opened the scoring through Mo Salah. Both teams had played their last game of the tournament.
Today’s match between Saudi Arabia and Egypt was a lesson in Absurdism. Both teams were already eliminated, and by the middle of the second-half, you knew why. The uninspired display of a football match in the later stages of the game must have had spectators questioning the meaning of the match, if not life itself. But, as in life, the monotonous set the tone for a moment of excitement, and it is only after enduring the ordinary that one truly enjoys the extraordinary. So when, after a rather drab second-half, Saudi Arabia’s Salem Al-Dawsari scored the winner in the last minute of the game, the Vologrand Arena erupted, Egypt’s Mo Salah was in tear: the scenes were simply extraordinary.
Regardless of the result, both the teams bow out of the tournament. The match was more about honour than the result itself, this being only the second all-Arab derby in a World Cup. Saudi lined up in a 4-5-1 and Egypt in a 4-2-3-1. Egypt’s goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary was included in the starting line-up, which made him the oldest player in the World Cup history at 45 years and 161 days old. The match started and ended at half-time with the game and scores even.
Mo Salah opened the scoring for Egypt in the 21st minute when Egypt’s El Said intercepted a sloppy pass by Saudi Arabia and looped a long ball over the top of the Saudi Arabia defence. Salah timed his run between two defenders, controlled the ball with one-touch and dinked it over the onrushing keeper. Minutes later, he got an opportunity to double his team’s lead when a sublime pass put him one-on-one with the keeper. The winger tried to repeat his trick and dink the ball over the onrushing keeper. The ball did go over the keeper’s head but besides the net too.
The final six minutes saw a lot of controversies after the referee awarded Saudi Arabia two penalties within eight minutes. The first came in the 39th minute when Al Shahrani crossed from the left and the ball struck Fathi’s arm inside the box. Fahad Muwallad took the spot kick and hit it hard on the left but Essam El-Hadary saved it. The referee awarded another penalty to Saudi Arabia in the injury time of the first half when Salem went down under a shove by Ali Gabrin. Salman Al-Faraj took the spot-kick and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to score the first goal for his team.
Saudi Arabia dominated the second-half both in possession and in the attack. Egypt seemed to be more than happy to just sit back and defend. Meanwhile, the Saudis created and squandered a few chances. Egypt too threatened to take the lead through counter-attacks, but none of the team were successful. The match was coming to a drab end. The Saudis were knocking at the door but couldn’t put the final touch to their moves.