Egypt scored their greatest ever victory with a thoroughly deserved 1-0 win on Thursday over world champions Italy who had never previously lost to an African team.
The shock result means Group B in the Confederations Cup
hangs in the balance with all four teams still able to progress
to next week's semi-finals.
Mohamed Homos' goal five minutes before half-time clinched
the first points of the tournament for the African champions,
who narrowly lost 4-3 to Brazil in their opening game.
Most of the Egyptians and coach Hassan Shehata shed tears of
joy at the final whistle as they became the first African side
in 15 attempts to beat the Italians.
Key second half saves from veteran goalkeeper Essam Al
Hadari, who had an inspired match, kept the Italians at bay
while Vincenzo Iaquinta hit the crossbar with just minutes
remaining as Egypt weathered a late onslaught.
"All the teams today are very good. You always have to be at
your best," said Italy coach Marcello Lippi. "We tried some
different things. It didn't go very well. Their keeper made
three or four very difficult saves."
Brazil, who beat the United States in Pretoria earlier on
Thursday, lead the standings with six points while Italy and
Egypt have three.
Brazil and Italy meet in Pretoria on Sunday while the
Egyptians play the Americans, who have yet to pick up a point,
in Rustenburg at the same time.
Despite losing both games the U.S. still have a remote
chance of getting through to the last four.
Lippi made five changes to the team that started against the
U.S. on Monday, with the return of fit-again captain Fabio
Cannavaro, winning his 124th cap -- two short of Paolo Maldini's
all-time Italian record of 126.
Cannavaro, typically, added steel to the Italian defence,
while Giuseppe Rossi, who came on as a substitute and scored
twice against the U.S., added youthful zest to the attack.
Both teams enjoyed plenty of possession in their first
meeting since Italy beat Egypt 5-1 in a World Cup qualifier 55
years ago, but it was a still a real surprise when the Egyptians
took the lead five minutes before the break.
Italy only had themselves to blame, leaving Homos unmarked
to score with a powerful header from Mohamed Aboutrika's perfect
The Italians had also trailed the U.S. 1-0 at the break in
their opening match, before coming back strongly to win.
But Egypt held their nerve and their ground despite Italy
bringing in attacking reinforcements Luca Toni, Simone Pepe and
Riccardo Montolivo in the second half.
They might have known it was not to be their night when El
Hadari made two fine stops in two minutes in the first half from
Iaquinta after 24 minutes and Rossi, who forced the keeper into
another fine save when he palmed the ball over the bar.
Egypt, despite winning only once in their last five matches
and getting off to a poor start in their final World Cup
qualifying group, never looked overawed by the Italians.
Mohamed Shawky and Sayed Moawad gave as good as they got in
the midfield battle for supremacy, with Italy's Gennaro Gattuso,
De Rossi and Andrea Pirlo battling to cope with the
inventiveness of the African champions' approach play.
Both teams threatened after the break, and El Hadari made
another excellent save from Montolivo after 74 minutes to keep
Egypt in the lead.
Iaquinta almost equalised for Italy five minutes from time,
only to see his long range curling shot hit the bar and Italy's
hopes of winning the game bounce away with it.