Cristiano Ronaldo once again was Portugual’s saviour as he came up with not one, but two stoppage-time headers to give the European champions a 2-1 victory over Mohamed Salah’s Egypt in an intense international friendly at the Letzigrund Stadium in Zurich, Switzerland.
Salah’s goalscoring exploits for club (Liverpool) and country have been well-documented this season and the winger’s prolific form continued on Friday night as he calmly scored a first-time strike from outside the box to give the African nation the lead early in the first-half.
Fernando Santos had named a full-strength side, with AC Milan striker Andre Silva leading the line alongside Ronaldo in a 4-4-2 system but it was Egypt who were fastest out of the blocks.
Portuguese custodian Beto was alert to stop a close-range stop early on, even if the Egypt bench couldn’t believe it.
As the match progressed, Portugal started to see more of the ball and began to exert their influence and a golden chance to take the lead would fall into their lap when they were awarded an indirect free-kick inside the Egypt box.
Ronaldo stepped up and while his shot was on target, the Egyptian wall did its job.
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Portugal would score before the interval, via centre-back Rolando, but the match officials, after consulting each other, ruled it out for offside and the sides went into the dressing rooms with the scores level.
And after Salah’s terrific strike in the 56th minute, Portugal were clearly feeling the heat.
They poured forward at every opportunity, but it seemed Ronaldo was having a rare off-day as his shots were either off target or safely in the keeper’s range.
However, the Iberians kept pressing and were eventually rewarded for their perseverance when Ronaldo rose highest to nod home Ricardo Quaresma’s cross in the 93rd minute.
The referee had initially signalled for four minutes of added time to be played but Portugal were awarded a free-kick deep in Egypt territory. Quaresma swung in a quality delivery and Portugal’s No.7 soared high to head past Momahed El Shenawy to break Egyptian hearts.
The Pharaohs have to pick themselves up almost immediately for they next face Greece on March 27 while Portugal face-off with Tunisia on March 29.