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Egypt shock Italy at Confed Cup

SoccerNews in Serie A, World Cup 19 Jun 2009

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Egypt shocked Italy 1-0 on Thursday as the world champions cracked under pressure to leave their Confederations Cup fate in limbo.

Mohamed Homos was the Egyptian hero with his 40th minute header enough to hand them a famous victory in front of 51,000 fans, but they also had goalkeeper Essam al-Hadary to thank for pulling off a string of fine saves.

Egypt and Italy are now level on three points in Group B with the Pharoahs favourites to go through to the semi-finals.

They face the United States on Sunday while Italy must play Brazil, who have two wins out of two so far.

“We are honoured because this was a victory against the world champions,” Egypt deputy coach Shawky Gharib said.

“We played a tactical match and our concentration levels were very high. We played better than them for the 90 minutes and this will go down as part of Egyptian history.”

Disappointed Italy coach Marcello Lippi said his team started well but did not do what they planned.

“We had a good beginning in which I thought we did really well and created opportunities. I thought the game was balanced,” he said.

“But we were not very aggressive or entreprenurial. We didn’t take the initiative. I expected things to go differently but we didn’t take advantage.”

Egypt coach Hassan Shehata said before the game that African pride was at stake and his team was bubbling with confidence after pushing Brazil hard in their gallant 4-3 defeat on Monday.

The African Nations Cup champions’ made one change from that match and it was an inspired move, with Homos replacing 35-year-old captain Ahmed Hassan, the country’s most capped player.

Lippi welcomed back his captain Fabio Cannavaro, who missed their 3-1 win over the United States with a calf strain, as Nicolas Legrottaglie made way for the Real Madrid star.

There were two other changes with Fabio Quagliarella in for Mauro Camoranesi while Giuseppe Rossi, their two-goal hero from Monday, replaced Alberto Gilardino.

The game started quietly with AC Milan defender Gianluca Zambrotta having Italy’s first shot on goal after seven minutes, but it was a feeble effort that didn’t trouble El Hadary.

Villarreal’s American-born striker Rossi let rip with a left foot rocket soon after only to see it flash over the bar as Italy pressed the attack.

But Egypt also had their moments, with Mohamed Aboutrika causing problems in the Italian box, going close after 15 minutes in his team’s best chance till then.

It was Italy, though, who looked more likely to score with Juventus man Vincenzo Iaquinta and Rossi both forcing saves from Al-Hadary within the space of a minute midway through the half.

Not to be outdone, Egypt responded with a sustained period of pressure that ended with the goal from Homos who rose to meet a corner from Aboutrika and head the ball past Gianluigi Buffon to rock Italy.

The Italians had also gone one down against the United States and fought back to win, and they began the second half with a sense of urgency.

They should have equalised when Iaquinta found himself unmarked in the box but his control was poor and Al-Hadary scrambled the ball clear.

Lippi brought Luca Toni on and took Rossi off but Italy couldn’t find the breakthrough with Al-Hadary solid as a rock in the Egyptian goal, pulling off save after save to keep his team in front.

Italy had one last chance as the seconds ticked down but AC Milan’s Andrea Pirlo sent his freekick sailing over the bar to end a miserable night for Italy and a memorable one for Egypt.

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