BEIRUT: Egypt defeated Lebanon 4-1 in convincing fashion Friday in Tripoli, with the hosts looking well under par in a worrying performance leading up to next month’s World Cup qualifiers.
If the match was intended to act as a confidence booster for Lebanon, or an opportunity for the players to get reacquainted; it instead offered them a rude awakening, with Lebanon falling to a two-goal deficit just 17 minutes in.
The first goal came on four minutes when a scintillating Egypt corner caused a skirmish in the Lebanese box, with the ball eventually falling to the Egypt forward, who smashed the ball into the goal.
The gulf in class was heavily evidenced between the two countries, and Egypt’s dominance paid off once again, aided by Lebanon’s inept defense and the lead was double on 17 minutes. A skewed volley from the Egypt forward bounced in front of Bilal Najarine, whose ill-advised headed back pass was pounced on by the Egypt forward, who was clattered by the heavy Hasan Mognieh earning his side a penalty in the process. Ahmad Hasan seized the ball, and placed his penalty low to the left of Mognieh.
After the worst possible start, Lebanon reacted in positive fashion, with Najarine atoning for his previous error, by winning his side a penalty 26 minutes in. The referee’s decision was dubious to say the least, as replays showed that the Egypt defender’s alleged high boot made no contact with the head of the Lebanon defender. Ahmad Zreik’s placed the penalty high into the top corner.
Lebanon were looking like a different animal, and great play from Mohammad Faghour carved up a dangerous chance for the hosts, as he wriggled past two players and placed an incisive ball into Zreik, who squared the ball to Hasan Mohammad on the edge of the box. The Nijmeh forward’s powerful shot was true and straight forcing the Egypt goalkeeper into a magnificent save.
After succumbing to cramp, Moghnieh was replaced by Mohammad Hammoud, who was treated to a baptism of fire, conceding almost immediately. A neat pass and go by the Egypt forwards put Marwan Mohsen through on goal, and he tucked his shot effortlessly past the stranded Hammoud.
The start of the second half brought much of the same with Egypt looking a cut above the hosts. And it took only seven minutes for the guests to nab their fourth, as Ahmad Kheiry went on a slalom running leaving the entire Lebanon defense in his wake. His subsequent effort from the edge of the box was blasted low and hard past the helpless Hammoud.
The match was bordering on embarrassing, and it took a magical double save from Hammoud, to prevent Egypt from going five up. Lebanon were struggling to escape from their own half, and sloppy play constantly handed possession back to Egypt.
Lebanon offered no sort of response, and they looked like schoolboy amateurs, marking up one shot on target for the entire second half.
The final whistle arrived putting an end to the mauling. Theo Bucker will be left with much to ponder after a less than ideal performance.