Mohamed Salah, Egypt, National ( Chris Ricco/BackpagePix/Sports Inc/PA Images)

Mo Salah opens AFCON account as Liverpool dominate Man of the Match awards

Mohamed Salah got his first goal of this year’s Africa Cup of Nations as Egypt picked up their first points of the tournament in a close-fought victory over Guinea-Bissau.

It was a tough start to the AFCON for Salah as Egypt fell to a 1-0 defeat to Nigeria on Tuesday, and for much of the night, it seemed to be going that way in their second outing.

Guinea-Bissau held firm despite Egypt dominating much of their encounter in Garoua, with Carlos Queiroz’s side boasting considerably more possession, shots and successful passes.

Salah nearly produced the perfect start as he fired an effort on goal in the second minute, only to see his strike hit the post, with Jonas Mendes saving his deflected volley later on.

But Liverpool’s No. 11 found the back of the net in the 69th minute, pulling off a smart volley after a flowing move that saw Amr El Soleya loft it up for the finish and a 1-0 win.

Egypt had further opportunities to extend their lead but squandered them, while Guinea-Bissau were unlucky to see a stunning equaliser from Mama Balde ruled out due to a slight foul in the buildup.

It was Egypt who took the three points, then, moving up to second in Group D, with a win or draw against Sudan in their final group game on Wednesday almost certainly sealing progress to the last 16.

For Salah, the win brought a fifth goal in 12 appearances at the AFCON, and his performance earned him the Man of the Match award.

That means all three of Liverpool’s African internationals have now been named Man of the Match at this year’s tournament, with Sadio Mane winning the prize in Senegal’s opening group game and Naby Keita honoured in each of Guinea’s two games so far.

“The tournament is difficult,” Salah told beIN SPORTS after the game.

“All the teams in Africa are playing well and most teams have more professional players than the Egyptian national team.”

The Premier League and Champions League winner added: “The African Nations Cup would be the most precious title for me.”