Salah’s Egypt through to World Cup qualifying playoffs

Egypt's Mohamed Salah in their 2018 FIFA World Cup Group A Round 3 match against Saudi Arabia at Volgograd Arena Stadium; Saudi Arabia wins 2-1 Sergei Savostyanov / TASS

Egypt went through to Africa’s World Cup qualifying playoffs Friday after fighting back from 2-0 down for a 2-2 draw in Angola.

The point ensured Egypt won Group F with a game to spare and denied Gabon the chance of stealing the playoff place in a decisive final group game in Egypt next week.

Gabon surprised Libya 1-0 a few hours before the Angola-Egypt game kicked off thanks to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s penalty early in the second half. It ended Libya’s own hopes of making the payoffs and kept Gabon’s faint chances alive.

Egypt went into its match knowing it needed just a draw, and found itself 2-0 down after 36 minutes. But goals by Mohamed Elneny and Akram Tawfik — both set up by captain Mohamed Salah — clinched the draw.

Egypt joins Morocco, Senegal and Mali, which had already qualified for the 10-team playoffs in March. Only the group winners progress to Africa’s playoffs and the other six teams will be decided by Tuesday when the group stage ends.

The five winners of the two-leg playoffs will be Africa’s representatives at the World Cup in Qatar.

Algeria’s 4-0 win over Djibouti put the reigning African champion on the brink of the playoffs. The Algerians now need just a draw at home in their final Group A game on Tuesday against Burkina Faso, which can qualify in place of Algeria with a win, setting up a grandstand finish to the group.

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