Host Russia romped to the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup, trouncing Egypt 3-1 at St Petersberg and potentially sending the Pharaohs packing back home.
A horrible own goal from Ahmed Fathi, the fifth in the tournament and third from an African side, opened a goal harvest in second half of a nail-biting encounter after a barren first.
Wonder kid Cherrychev added a second for the host on the night, his personal third in the tournament before Dzyuba ended any Egyptian hope of a revival.
Mohammed Salah who made his debut in the World Cup could only afford a consolation which came through a penalty after he was pulled down in the vital area.
The scoreline was a heavy deception of a game that was thoroughly engaging with an incredible end-to-end stuff but in the end, it was all tale of contrasting emotions with the host happy to progress and Egypt on the brink of an early exit.
They will bang their hope on a miracle, an unlikely victory by Saudi Arabia against Uruguay in Group A’s other game on Wednesday, if they are to stay in the tournament. But that will be a tall order.
After the host tore Saudi to rags in tournament’s opener and Egypt lost to Uruguay in the group’s other game, it was more, a one leg in for Russia, one leg out for Egypt when they met at St Petersberg. But after 90 minutes of a gruelling action it looked more like both Egyptian legs will be out of the icy terrain of Russia, possibly to climb Mount Sinai in Egypt.
A lot was expected from Moh Salah after he sat out of Egypt’s opener against Uruguay but the Liverpool man was given little room to operate by a hungrier, composed and more determined host who had a buoyant support base chanting for hours.
The host pinned the Pharaohs in their own half in the opening embers of the game but the Egyptian defence appeared quite up to the task at least in the first half.
The game lighted up quite well after Egypt responded with Marwan and Salah combining well in attack for the Pharaohs. Cagey as it was in the first half the chances were few and far in between.
The greatest chance came in 41st minute and it fell to the Egyptians. A great dummy by Marwan sets up Salah who attempted to outwit his marker but when the ball was caught in between his legs the Liverpool man made a sharp turn and curled the ball towards the Russian goal. Ikor Akeenfeev was beaten but he looked on as the ball went inches wide.
The goal drought story of the first half changed in the second. The Egyptian defence that looked quite resilient and kept the free-scoring Russian side quiet for 45 minutes crumbled in the second half and actually gifted the host an own goal.
It was a dreadful start in the second half and it could not have been worse than an own goal from the Egyptian captain- Fathi.
In just two minutes of the second half, Russia went on the attack with a cross which was parried towards the path of Zobnin who then advertised a rather poor attempt at rebound. His shot from the edge was misdirected and without technique. It was straying harmlessly out of touch for a goal kick until skipper Fathi decided to make it count against him with a horrible clearance which crawled into his net with the keeper watching.
As if possessed, the Russians pounded the goal area of the Pharaohs in search of more goals.
In the 59th minute, Figuera Fernandes set up Cherrychev who slotted the ball past El Shanawy for Russia’s second on the night and almost ending the dreams of the Pharaohs. He scored a brace in the group's opener after coming on as a substitute. He earned a starting place and did not disappoint.
But that Cherrychev goal was not the end of the story. With just two touches from two men, Russia turned defence into attack and into a goal leaving a sloppy Egyptian defence wailing.
It was a long freekick at the edge of the Russian goal area which Dzyuba controlled well on his chest before beating his marker and squeezing one through for the third Russian goal.
Egypt fought back. Moh Salah got a consolation after he was pulled down in the vital area.