Olympic Football: New Zealand Holds on as the Egyptians Impress

David MoulsonContributor IJuly 29, 2012

Shane Smeltz on the end of a corner for New Zealand (C) D Moulson 2012
Shane Smeltz on the end of a corner for New Zealand (C) D Moulson 2012

Fast-paced passing and some ruthless defending came out on top as New Zealand drew with Egypt at Old Trafford. 

Egypt started the brighter of the two sides. Some very neat passing and great movement between the front four had the New Zealand defence dancing around in circles.

But it was New Zealand who took the early lead. Michael McGlinchey's corner was swung in and the Macclesfield-born Tommy Smith flicked the ball in to the back post. There to meet the ball was West Bromwich Albion striker Chris Wood, as he scored his first goal of the Olympics. 

New Zealand stood strong for a while as their keeper, Michael O'Keefe, was by far the busiest. He saved well from Emad Meteab, who wasted numerous chances for the Egyptians, and he saved also from the highly impressive Mohamed Salah.

Salah was soon rewarded with his goal after running the game for the opening 40 minutes. Mohamed Aboutrika played in Salah, who was calm as he slotted the ball under O'Keefe in the New Zealand goal.

The All Whites were still asleep from the kickoff as Egypt wasted a chance to take the lead as halftime approached; Aboutrika again with a great cross in from the left found Meteab, who headed over the bar when it looked easier to score than to miss.

All was square as the whistle blew for the first half. 

Chances were few and far between in the second half, but the game became very open as tired legs took the better of the match. But in the 80th minute, the game sprang to life. McGlinchey found himself with a great opening. The winger burst through the midfield and his cross found Marco Rojas, but the excellent attempt was at a perfect height for Egyptian keeper Ahmed El-Shenawy.

Now it was end-to-end, on-the-edge-of-your-seat stuff as Ahmed Fathi looked certain to seal a late victory for Egypt when he was again played in by Aboutrika. Hesitation took over for the Egyptian, as Ryan Nelson cleared the danger. The All Whites captain was a commanding figure at the back. 

It was Egypt again, as Salah's cross went past everyone and fizzed past O'Keefe's post, but it was still swinging either way.

As time was fading for both teams, Meteab found space in the box with just O'Keefe to beat. Having beaten him, all he had to do was stroke the ball home but he went for power and blasted the ball somehow over the bar.

An exciting end to a really decent game in Manchester as honours were even.

Man of the Match: Mohamed Salah (Egypt)