Free-scoring Russia’s World Cup dream continued with an emphatic 3-1 victory over Egypt in their second Group A match in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.
The win gives the hosts six points from their opening two games and puts them in pole position to advance after outscoring their opponents 8-1 thus far in the tournament.
Meanwhile, Egypt will need an Uruguay loss in tomorrow’s match against Saudi Arabia to avoid elimination.
Mohamed Salah played for the first time since injuring his shoulder in Liverpool’s Champions League final defeat against Real Madrid last month.
The star forward was left on the bench in Egypt’s 1-0 loss to Uruguay in their World Cup opener but was in the starting lineup for Hector Cuper’s team against the Russians.
Russia were the better side in the early minutes, pinning Egypt back in their own half and enjoying a number of half-chances.
Trezeguet sent hearts racing with a curled effort on 16 minutes that just went wide of the post. And Denis Cheryshev answered soon with a powerful shot that rose inches above the crossbar.
Salah worked his first chance of the game three minutes from half-time when a nice dummy by a teammate gave him space at the top of the box but his scooped, left-footed shot sailed wide off the target.
Russia made their advantage count immediately after the restart on a bizarre own goal by Egypt defender Ahmed Fathi.
From a broken play, Roman Zobnin scuffed his shot in the direction of Russia target man Artem Dzyuba, being marked by Fathi whose off-balance clearance attempt hit his knee and rolled past helpless Egypt goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shenawy and into the net.
Egyptian players circled Argentine referee Enrique Caceres arguing a push on Fathi but the goal stood to their dismay.
Salah had a half-chance on 55 minutes when he was found in the box with only one defender in front but his side-footed effort was well-blocked by the recovering Russian defence.
Ruthless Russia doubled their advantage five minutes later through former Real Madrid product Cheryshev who stroked home from inside the box after a nifty move and pulled-back cross from Mario Fernandes on the right.
And the confident hosts made it three on the day just two minutes later — the excellent Dzyuba deftly settling an elevated ball in the box, taking a touch to get free and firing past El-Shenawy.
Salah pulled a goal back in the 73rd minute after he won and scored a penalty.
The Egyptian No. 10 was brought down on the edge of the area and was initially awarded a free kick. However, a VAR review judged the foul to have occurred inside the box and the Liverpool star then stepped up and scored from the spot.
Russia will finish group play on Monday against Uruguay in Samara, while Egypt will finish against Saudi Arabia that same day in Volgograd.