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Mohamed Salah assists 2 but mixed emotions for Liverpool internationals

Several of Liverpool’s internationals continued to be in action over the weekend, as the start of the Africa Cup of Nations gets closer.

Many members of the Reds’ squad are finally on a well-earned break, with the majority of the European internationals now down for the season and off on holiday.

A few others faced no international action at all, with Joel Matip and James Milner retired from duty and Fabinho being strangely overlooked by Brazil for the Copa America.

But Alisson and Roberto Firmino both played in Brazil’s Copa opener at the start of the weekend and next up was the turn of more members of the Reds’ African contingent.

The Copa is just one of four summer international tournaments featuring Liverpool players, with the 2019 AFCON the next most high-profile event.

On Sunday afternoon, Egypt and Guinea played each other in a friendly which could have seen Mohamed Salah and Naby Keita go head-to-head—but neither were in the starting XI.

Keita was left out entirely while he continues to recover from injury, while Salah was named on the bench for Egypt, coming on after 60 minutes and changing the game.

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - Sunday, June 17, 2018: Egypt's Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring the first goal from a penalty kick during the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Group A match between Russia and Egypt at the Saint Petersburg Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

He almost teed up a goal immediately, before taking on the keeper with sublime close control and firing in an angled shot which hit the post, leaving team-mate Ahmed Ali to score the rebound for a 2-1 lead.

Within 10 minutes Salah had helped wrap the game up, shooting just wide with one attempt before claiming a second assist for a fortuitous third Egypt goal.

The Reds’ No. 11 will be crucial to his nation’s hopes of success in the Africa Cup of Nations on home soil; their opening group game is on June 21 against Zimbabwe.

Earlier, Sadio Mane‘s Senegal beat Nigeria in a friendly, but without their key man.

Liverpool’s No. 10 and the captain of the Lions of Teranga will have to sit out their AFCON opener against Tanzania (June 23), after it was revealed he faces a one-game suspension for accumulated yellow cards in the qualifiers. Senegal boss Aliou Cisse thus opted to check out his alternative options in the behind-closed-doors fixture.

YEKATERINBURG, RUSSIA - JUNE 24, 2018: Senegal's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring in a 2018 FIFA World Cup Group H match against Japan at Yekaterinburg Arena. Sergei Bobylev/TASS

At youth level, three promising talents were involved over the weekend.

Kamil Grabara is Poland U21’s first-choice goalkeeper and he is representing them at the U21 Euros, which started on Sunday.

He played the full 90 minutes as Poland beat Belgium 3-2, picking up a yellow card in stoppage time. Grabara’s team also face Italy (June 19) and Spain (June 22) in the group stage.

BURY, ENGLAND - Saturday, July 14, 2018: Liverpool's goalkeeper Kamil Grabara during a preseason friendly match between Bury FC and Liverpool FC at Gigg Lane. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

Elsewhere, Liam Millar came on as sub for Canada for his fifth senior cap, playing the final 20 minutes of a 4-0 win over Martinique in the Gold Cup.

Canada also face Mexico (June 20) and Cuba (June 23) in Group A, with the top two teams progressing to the quarter-finals.

Finally, Caoimhin Kelleher started in goal for Republic of Ireland U21s in their third-place play-off at the Toulon Tournament.

Kelleher kept a clean sheet as the match finished 0-0, but he was subbed off on 64 minutes as the squad players were given a run-out for the experience.

Thus, he was not on the pitch for the penalty shoot-out—which Ireland lost 4-3 against Mexico.

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