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Egypt stuns world champion Italy 1-0

EGYPT stunned Italy 1-0 with a header by Mohamed Homos yesterday, leaving the world champions with an uphill battle to reach the Confederations Cup semifinals.

The African champions easily neutralized Italy's revamped forward line and surprised the World Cup holders in the 40th minute when Homos outjumped Daniele De Rossi and beat goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon with a header off the inside of the post.

The goal left the two teams level with three points in Group B, with Italy facing group leader Brazil in the last match while Egypt plays the United States, which lost its first two games but still has a chance to advance.

Apart from Homos, Egypt goalkeeper Essam El Hadary made three crucial second-half saves on Vincenzo Iaquinta to clinch the only upset of the tournament so far.

Iaquinta was unlucky in the 86th minute when his floating shot had finally beaten the goalkeeper but bounced back into play off the bar.

"We didn't make it because their goalie was fantastic," Italy coach Marcello Lippi said, adding there was now only one approach to take against Brazil.

"From Minute 1, we will take the initiative," Lippi said. "We have to win."

After Egypt lost only 4-3 on a last-minute penalty to Brazil in the opener, it again proved what a solid team it is, playing well above its 40th place in the FIFA rankings.

"We were playing against the world champions," Egypt assistant coach Chawki Gharib said. "It was a scary feeling but we have controlled the match."

And the pro-Egypt crowd of 52,150 at Ellis Park roared with delight as the upset came closer.

As Italy kept on pushing forward, Egypt was smart enough not to entrench itself and remained dangerous on the counter until the end.

Lippi had redesigned his entire attack, putting American-born Giuseppe Rossi at center forward after scoring two goals as a substitute against the Americans in a 3-1 come-from-behind win. The Villarreal striker looked sluggish until he was replaced by Luca Toni in the 58th minute.

"We tried some different things and it didn't go very well," Lippi said. "We didn't do the things we trained to do."

Egypt, however, was also not that impressive up front either.

With Fabio Cannavaro back at the heart of the defense after missing the opener with a right calf injury, he was well in control most of the time. The Italy captain gained made his 125th appearance and needs only two more to break Paolo Maldini's Azzurri record of 126 caps.

Like Rossi, Egypt forward Mohamed Zidan also followed up his two-goal opener with a near-invisible performance and was replaced in the 57th minute. Gharib said Zidan felt a muscle strain but did not elaborate beyond saying he should be ready to face the United States on Sunday.

It turned it into a battle of wills and Egypt prevailed, often outrunning and outhustling their gloried opponents. And even in five minutes of extra time, Egypt kept its composure to safeguard its first-ever victory over Italy.

The group will now be decided on Sunday. Brazil leads with six points, while both Italy and Egypt have three and the United States has zero.


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