Hosts Egypt proved too strong for Ghana as the Pharaohs twice came from behind to snatch a 3-2 win in their Group A clash at the ongoing U23 Cup of Nations (Afcon) on Monday.
The Black Meteors twice led through captain Yaw Yeboah and then Samuel Obeng Gyabaa but replies from Mohamed Moustafa, Ramadan Sobhi and Ahmed Yasser Rayyan earned the hosts all three points at Cairo International Stadium.
The result puts Egypt through to the next round ahead of their last group game against Cameroon while Ghana sit third with a point ahead of Thursday’s matchday three showdown with Mali.
Spain-based duo Emmanuel Lomotey and Obeng were the new faces in Ghana’s starting line-up, taking the places of Simon Zibo and Issah Abass respectively.
As expected, there was no place for Smouha midfielder Nasser Maher in the Egyptian side after picking up a tournament-ending injury on the opening day; his place was taken by Hamdi Ammar.
The hosts were stunned in just the sixth minute when captain Yeboah arrived early to prod home the opener from close range from an Obeng cut-back.
In the 12th minute, Ghana almost made it 2-0 but Kwabena Owusu’s dinked ball went over the bar after being put through against the goalkeeper by Yeboah.
Egypt drew level in the 17th minute through Zamalek striker Moustafa who rose unchallenged to head home Ahmed Mohamed’s cross.
Moments later, Salah Mohsen could have put the hosts in the lead for the first time but his effort went wide after being picked out by a through ball.
Karim Hesham then sliced a shot over the bar following a failed overhead kick by Egypt captain Sobhi, who saw a shot just tipped over the bar by goalkeeper Kwame Baah on 41 minutes.
Just a minute into the second half, Ghana were back on top, this time through Obeng who capitalised on a weak back pass from Egypt centre-back Mohamed Abdelsalam to round the goalkeeper and put the ball into the back of the net.
In the 53rd minute, Baah reacted quickly to parry away a Moustafa close-range shot after the Zamalek man was picked out by Sobhi.
Egypt appeared to have drawn level in the 55th minute but Sobhi’s rebound header was ruled out for offside.
Two minutes later, Baah was at hand for a divine goal-line save after Sobhi – yet again – found Tawfik with a cut-back.
Baah was called into action again in the 63rd minute with a near-post save to deny Mohsen from close range.
On 74 minutes, substitute Abdel Rahman Magdy slipped a ball into the path of Hesham who struck his shot against the crossbar.
The Pharaohs finally drew level on 82 minutes when Sobhi reacted quickly to slot home a rebound after Baah failed to hold onto a Rahman Magdy shot.
With Egypt at this point pilling ever-increasing pressure, it was no surprise the hosts fetched a deserved winner through Rayyan who rose high to head home from a Sobhi corner in the 88th minute.
There was little time for another goal as the hosts held on for a famous 3-2 win.