(REUTERS) – SAUDI Arabia pulled off a last-gasp 2-1 win over Egypt as the two sides departed from the tournament on Monday, adding to the misery of Egypt’s prolific striker, Mohamed Salah and giving the Saudis their first victory at a World Cup since 1994.
In an often end-to-end game between two teams already packing their bags for the journey home, Salah put Egypt ahead but wasted a golden opportunity to double the lead, allowing the Green Falcons the chance to claw their way back.
The win, settled by midfielder Salem Al-Dawsari’s angled strike in the 95th minute, meant Saudi Arabia finished third in Group A, scoring their only goals in Russia and putting behind them an opening day 5-0 thrashing by the hosts.
Egypt finished in last place with no points, a result likely to heap pressure on Argentine coach, Hector Cuper.
It was a sad send-off for Salah who missed the opening game of the tournament with the shoulder injury he picked up during Liverpool’s Champions League final defeat by Real Madrid in May.
Saudi Arabia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi praised his team for not giving Egypt the space they needed to feed Salah who looked like he was still suffering the effects of the injury.
“It stopped him even from preparing properly for this World Cup,” Pizzi told reporters. “I think that psychologically, his injury was also hard for his team, as it was for Liverpool. I think it had an impact both on the national team and on Liverpool.”
There had been confusion before the kick-off about whether Salah would play when a team sheet showing him not in the starting line-up was posted on an Egypt account on Twitter, only to be replaced minutes later by another that included him.
Earlier on Monday, the Egyptian Football Association denied reports that Salah was considering retirement from the national team after unwittingly becoming a publicity pawn for the Kremlin-backed leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov.
When Salah opened the scoring against Saudi Arabia, he chose not to celebrate.