Salah left out of starting line-up for Egypt World Cup opener

But it also stops the rot for Uruguay in World Cup opening games - the South Americans had not won their first match in the tournament since 1970.

Uruguay were disappointing and the relief was evident when Jimenez headed home Carlos Sanchez's free-kick as the match moved towards the 90th minute.

He now has four more days to work on his fitness before Egypt face Russian Federation in St Petersburg next Tuesday, while Uruguay will play Saudi Arabia the next day in Rostov. It just wasn't the same.

Salah's omission is also something of a surprise given Cuper's comments on Thursday, when he said: "We still have to see how training goes today, but I can nearly assure you 100% that he'll play, we are all very optimistic that he will be on the pitch".

Aside from Liverpool ace Salah failing to get off the bench with his shoulder injury, another major talking point was also off the pitch - large portions of empty seats in one main stand at the Yekaterinburg Arena were an embarrassing sight for Federation Internationale de Football Association and local organizers.

Egypt came within minutes of surviving largely thanks to the heroics of goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shenawy, who bravely dived to snatch the ball from Luis Suarez' feet and then flung himself through the air to tip a Edinson Cavani volley wide.

The Liverpool forward was left on the bench during the Pharaohs' 1-0 defeat by Uruguay in Ekaterinburg on Friday as he continues to recover from the shoulder injury he suffered in the Champions League final last month.

Should he return as hoped, it would be the ideal present - Salah will celebrate his 26th birthday on Friday.

Cuper said after the match that he expects Salah to feature against the hosts and, on this evidence, they badly need him. "We wanted to avoid any risks in this match, but I think he will be fine for the next game".

On Salah's absence, he added: "If Mo Salah had been on the pitch, I'm sure Egypt would have benefited". The work we do all the time is precisely to make our players understand that they have to work harder. "Perhaps if Mo had been on the pitch today the outcome could have been different, but we'll never know that".

  • Stacy Allen