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Africa Cup Of Nations 2023 Wrap: Egypt Play Out 2-2 Draw Against Ghana As Mohamed Salah Suffers Injury; Nigeria Beat Ivory Coast 1-0

Mohammed Kudus scored both goals for Ghana but the “Black Stars” were let down by defensive mistakes as Omar Marmoush and Mostafa Mohamed capitalized to dent the four-time champion's hopes of making the knockout stage

 X/ @CAF_Online
Ghana players celebrating the goal against Egypt in the AFCON 2023 clash on Thursday Photo: X/ @CAF_Online
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Egypt lost Mohamed Salah to injury before coming from behind twice to draw 2-2 with Ghana in their potentially decisive Africa Cup of Nations match on Thursday. (Football News)

Mohammed Kudus scored both goals for Ghana but the “Black Stars” were let down by defensive mistakes as Omar Marmoush and Mostafa Mohamed capitalized to dent the four-time champion's hopes of making the knockout stage.

“We made careless mistakes,” Kudus said. "Now we'll have to get back to work, win the next one and then see what happens.” 

Ghana remained bottom of Group B with just one point, level with Mozambique, while Egypt was second two points behind group leader Cape Verde. Cape Verde and Mozambique play their second game of the tournament on Friday. Only the top two in each group are assured of advancing.

Egypt's hopes of a record-extending eighth Africa Cup title suffered a blow before halftime when Salah limped off holding the back of his left thigh.

Ghana was boosted by the return of Kudus, who fit again after recovering from a hamstring injury.

Kudus' team started promisingly but found it hard to get through the Egyptians' defensive lines as the Ghanaian fans let their impatience show. A cooling break restored the supporters' good mood with many standing up to dance and cheer as the party restarted in the stands. 

Kudus scored in first-half injury time — a minute after Salah left the field — when he received the ball from Salis Abdul Samed, eluded a defender, then another, before firing past Mohamed El-Shenawy in the Egypt goal from well outside the area.

Kudus went close again after the break before Egypt had a goal ruled out through VAR for offside and Marmoush drew a save from Richard Ofori. 

Marmoush finally equalized in the 69th after capitalizing on a botched backpass from Iñaki Williams.

Kudus replied two minutes later with a shot that took a slight deflection off a defender to sneak inside the far post. But, another defensive error from Osman Bukari, who had just replaced Williams, allowed Mohamed to equalize three minutes after that.

“The level of performance was good. And we will need this going into the next game,” Ghana coach Chris Hughton said of his team's must-win match against Mozambique on Monday. “If we put in this top performance, we have every chance of going through.”

NIGERIA UPSETS HOSTS 

William Troost-Ekong's second-half penalty was enough for Nigeria to jolt its campaign into life with a 1-0 win over host nation Ivory Coast.

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The “Super Eagles” were under pressure to get a victory after drawing their opening game against Equatorial Guinea and are now all but certain of reaching the knockout stage.

Coach José Peseiro's team finally showed defensive stability as it ended a six-game run of conceding at least a goal.

But, it was another frustrating performance from star player Victor Osimhen, despite earning the penalty that facilitated the win.

Referee Mustapha Ghorbal awarded the spot kick after consulting video replays and deciding Ousmane Diomande had fouled Osimhen.

Troost-Ekong confidently fired the penalty down the centre of the goal in the 55th.

Osimhen missed the game's best early chance when he shot high and wide after being played through by Samuel Chukwueze.

The 60,000-capacity Alassane Ouattara Stadium was mostly full for the match, as organizers said all tickets were sold out. The opening games have been affected by ticketing problems. Fans were warned to “stay away from the sun” amid temperatures above 30 degrees C (86 F) and humidity of 75%.

Abidjan was bustling with excited fans long before the game, many wearing its distinctive orange jersey, blowing their horns, and waving the country's orange, white and green flags.

But, Ivory Coast dropped to third in Group A on three points, one behind Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria. The “Elephants” next face Equatorial Guinea on Monday, when Nigeria plays Guinea-Bissau for its final group game.

NSUE SETS HAT TRICK RECORD

Emilio Nsue scored a hat trick and Equatorial Guinea took a giant step toward the knockout stage with a 4-2 win over Guinea-Bissau in the early kick-off.

The 34-year-old Nsue became the oldest player to score a hat trick at the tournament, which is in its 34th edition, and the first in 16 years. 

Substitute Zé Turbo scored Guinea Bissau's consolation goal in injury time but couldn't prevent the country's winless run at the Africa Cup from stretching to 11 games. The “Djurtus” are bottom of the group after losing both games so far.

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