Mohamed Salah got the better of his clubmate Sadio Mané as Egypt edged Senegal 1-0 in the first leg of their World Cup playoff to take a slender lead to Dakar for Tuesday’s return.
The rematch between the two Liverpool greats, six weeks after Senegal beat Egypt on penalties to win their first Africa Cup of Nations title, saw Salah set up the only goal. He beat the offside trap to get on the end of a ball over the top of the defence from Amr El Sulaya, hitting the bar before the rebound bounced off the Senegal defender Saliou Ciss’s knee and into the net for a dream start after four minutes.
But that was all Egypt managed despite a capacity 75,000 crowd at the Cairo International Stadium where Senegal proved more enterprising and will still feel confident about winning the tie on aggregate and advancing to the World Cup in Qatar.
The jollof derby between two regional rivals Ghana and Nigeria played out a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their playoff in Kumasi, leaving the tie wide open when they meet again in Abuja on Tuesday to decide a place at the World Cup. The Jollof derby, so-called after the rice dish popular in both countries, failed to produce much spice and will have left fans unsatisfied after a myriad of mistakes and poor decision-making marked the game.
Ghana had more of the possession and chances in their home leg but proved sloppy in their finishing. Only twice did they test the goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, who made a stop from a stinging shot by Issahaku Fatawu in the 33rd minute and then again in the 71st minute from Mohammed Kudus. Nigeria’s best opening fell to Moses Simon 10 minutes into the second half but he squandered the chance.
Algeria’s Islam Slimani headed home for a 1-0 away victory over Cameroon in their playoff first leg in Douala to take a giant step towards a place at this year’s finals in Qatar. The striker extended his goal tally in the African qualifiers to eight with a powerful header from a 40th-minute free-kick for the winner in a cagey game at the Japoma Stadium.
The Mali defender Moussa Sissako scored a first-half own goal and was sent off four minutes later to dent his country’s hopes of reaching the finals for the first time as they lost 1-0 at home to Tunisia. The substitute Tarik Tissoudali scored minutes after coming on to earn Morocco a 1-1 draw away against the Democratic Republic of Congo in the first leg of their playoff in Kinshasa.