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2017 African Nations Cup, Group Stage 2017

Egypt and Mali finish their Group D opener goalless

Egypt and Mali played out a goalless draw in their African Nations Cup Group D opener at Port Gentil.

Mali had gone close to breaking the deadlock on 13 minutes.

Moussa Marega sent a deep ball into the penalty area from the left, which Bastia midfielder Lassana Coulibaly tried to glance into the far corner, but Egypt goalkeeper Ahmed El-Shenawy turned it behind at full stretch.

However, the Zamalek stopper soon picked up an injury and was eventually forced off in the 24th minute, which saw veteran Essam El Hadary, who turned 44 on Sunday, sent on to become the oldest player to compete in the finals of the African Nations Cup.

After a five-minute delay, the action was able to resume and the Pharaohs were quickly on the counter.

Roma forward Mohamed Salah broke down the right before cutting the ball back to the edge of the penalty area where Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny sent a side-footed effort just over.

Mali pressed again late in the first half, as Coulibaly just failed to connect with a flying header after the ball was whipped in from the right through a packed Egypt penalty area.

Egypt went close early in the second half when a bullet header from Al Ahly frontman Marwan Mohsen was acrobatically pushed over by Eagles keeper Oumar Sissoko.

El Hadary was alert to quickly close down Marega as the Vitoria de Guimaraes forward looked to snatch a late winner for Mali.

Egypt, who have won the competition a record seven times, will next face Uganda on Saturday.

Mali take on Group D leaders Ghana, who won their opening match against the Cranes which was also held at the Stade de Port-Gentil on Tuesday.