Egypt through to quarters with 2-0 win over Australia in Olympics
Egypt qualify for the last eight virtue of a better goal difference than Argentina after beating Australia 2-0 in their final Group C game on Wednesday
Egypt s forward Ahmed Rayan (L) scores during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games men s group C first round football match between Australia and Egypt at the Miyagi Stadium in Miyagi on July 28, 2021 (AFP)
Egypt's U23 football team reached the quarter-finals of the Olympic Games with a 2-0 victory over Australia in their final Group C game on Wednesday, having adopted a firm attacking strategy that stood in stark contrast to two cautious approaches against Spain and Argentina.
Striker Ahmed Rayan netted Egypt's first goal of the tournament on the stroke of halftime to give them the lead and substitute Ammar Hamdi ensured the victory with a late poacher's effort as the Pharaohs made it through to the last eight, where they will face Brazil in a mouthwatering clash.
Egypt finished as the group runners-up with four points, on level with third-placed Argentina, who played out a 1-1 draw with leaders Spain (five points). The Pharaohs went through virtue of a better goal difference than Argentina.
Australia finished at the bottom with three points.
Egypt last reached the quarters at the 2012 London Games when they were beaten 3-0 by Japan at the Old Trafford. They failed to qualify for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro edition.
Having held Spain to a surprise 0-0 draw in their opening game at the Tokyo Games before falling to a disappointing 1-0 loss to Argentina, Egypt were aware they had no option but to abandon their conservative strategy if they are to book a last-eight berth.
Coach Shawky Gharib, unlike the past two games, fielded one central midfielder in Akram Tawfik and introduced three attacking midfielders to support lone striker Rayan.
The bold formation paid off handsomely as Egypt applied intense pressure from the outset, with winger Salah Mohsen creating two half-chances early on.
But it was Pyramids FC winger Ramadan Sobhi, Egypt's undisputed star, who wreaked havoc down the left with his marauding runs and tricks.
He set up Rayan for the much-needed opener one minute before halftime, playing a neat one two with Taher Mohamed Taher and skipping past Harry Souttar on the left before pulling the ball back to the unmarked Rayan, who made no mistake from eight yards out.
Australia threw caution to the wind in the second half and Egypt could have taken advantage of the gaps the Socceroos left at the back.
Sobhi was released by a defence-splitting pass from Rayan but his attempted chip was blocked by keeper Tom Glover. He also headed over the bar with the goal gaping after a shot from the diminutive Hamdi had struck the bar.
Egypt were still indebted to Ahly goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shennawi, who is one of the three over-age players in their squad, for pulling off some brilliant saves to keep Australia at bay in the dying minutes.
He tipped over a shot from substitute Daniel Arzani on 80 minutes before producing a superb one-handed save to smother a goal-bound header from Thomas Deng.
Hamdi put the result to bed with five minutes remaining, burying home a rebound after some fine individual work from fellow substitute Nasser Mansi, who turned Kye Rowles inside out with clever twists before his tame shot was fumbled by Glover.
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