Mohamed Salah squeezed a volley under the goalkeeper to give a nervous Egypt a 1-0 win over tiny Guinea-Bissau, which was denied maybe its biggest result at the African Cup of Nations on Saturday when it had a brilliant late equalizer contentiously disallowed after a VAR check.
Salah’s breakthrough came in the 69th minute after the record seven-time African champion labored to break down Guinea-Bissau.
But the Liverpool forward’s smart finish with his left foot from a tight angle wasn’t nearly the most dramatic moment of the game.
Guinea-Bissau forward Mama Baldé weaved in from the left wing and unleashed a shot that flew into the far corner of the net with eight minutes to go to seemingly stun Egypt, and the entire tournament in Cameroon.
But after a long delay, referee Pacifique Ndabihawenimana of Burundi went over to consult VAR and eventually disallowed the goal for a foul by Baldé on Egypt defender Omar Kamal.
Baldé had put a hand on Kamal’s shoulder as he forced his way past him on the way to scoring, but it was a tight, tight call.
Egypt survived another scare from a shot by Moreto Cassamá in what was just about the last kick of the game. Egypt goalkeeper Mohammed el-Shenawy dived to push it away with two hands and it was Guinea-Bissau’s last chance.
Egypt hit the post three times in the game, one of those by Salah in the first half, but the sense of relief for the Egyptians at fulltime was obvious.
The victory revived Egypt’s Group D campaign after it lost its opening game to Nigeria 1-0. But it was not the convincing reaction Egypt fans demanded and there was increasing pressure on coach Carlos Queiroz, the former Real Madrid boss.