After losing captain Mohamed Salah to injury in the first half, Egypt twice overcame deficits to earn a 2-2 draw with Ghana at the Africa Cup of Nations on Thursday.
In the Group B match at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium, Mohammed Kudus scored both goals for Ghana. He scored the first goal from 20 meters out shortly after Salah was substituted.
Omar Marmoush pounced on an error to equalise for Egypt midway through the second half, but Kudus struck again right away to restore Ghana’s lead.
The Black Stars were left to rue another mistake as Mostafa Mohamed levelled on 74 minutes, leaving Ghana with just one point from two matches.
Egypt are only one point better off after back-to-back draws, but their immediate concern will be the health of Salah — whose stoppage-time penalty had snatched a 2-2 draw with Mozambique.
Ghana have now won just one of their last 11 AFCON matches. They were stunned 2-1 in their first game by Cape Verde, the smallest nation in the tournament who can clinch a last-16 place and top spot in the group with victory over Mozambique on Friday.
Chris Hughton made three changes to his Ghana side as he recalled Kudus and Spain-born striker Inaki Williams, knowing another loss would leave them staring at a second successive first-round exit.
The past four AFCON meetings between the countries had yielded just five goals, a trend that looked set to continue in a quiet first half in which Emam Ashour’s 43rd-minute shot was the first on target.
Salah Goes Off
Moments later though Egypt lost their talisman Salah and then almost immediately fell behind.
The Liverpool forward slumped to the grass as Ghana countered-attacked, clutching the back of his left leg and resigned to the fact his night at the very least was over.
With Egypt still reeling from the loss of Salah, it was Ghana’s key man Kudus who seized the spotlight, shifting the ball away from a couple of defenders and rifling a left-footed drive into the near corner.
The West Ham attacking midfielder missed the Cape Verde loss through injury, but here he demonstrated how central he is to the Black Stars’ fading hopes of a fifth AFCON title — 42 years after they last won the trophy.
Kudus volleyed an effort into the ground and just over the crossbar before Ahmed Hegazi, who took over the armband from Salah, had a goal ruled out for offside early in the second half.
Marmoush forced Richard Ofori to tip over a stinging attempt, but Egypt took advantage of a Ghana lapse to draw level on 69 minutes.
Williams hit an ill-advised backpass that was pounced upon by Marmoush, who nervelessly rounded Ofori and slotted home.
Kudus put Ghana in front again two minutes later after receiving Denis Odoi’s pass in the area, with his shot glancing off Mohamed Abdelmonem and deceiving Egypt goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy.
Ghana were the architects of their own downfall once more though.
The ball was pulled back for Mohamed to steer between Ofori’s legs by Mahmoud Trezequet after substitute Osman Bukari was caught in possession of the ball inside his own box.
Ashour came dangerously close to winning at the last second, but Ofori stopped his curling attempt, saving Ghana from further defeat and keeping them in the running for the knockout stage.
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