Belgium was beaten 2-1 by Egypt in an international friendly on Friday in a sobering defeat that belied their status as one of the favorites for the World Cup in Qatar.
A mistake from Kevin De Bruyne and an inspired pass from Mohamed Salah clinched the goals for Egypt, which narrowly missed out on World Cup qualification in March as they claimed victory in an intermittent match in Kuwait City.
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Mostafa Mohamed scored in the 33rd minute from a rough short ball after De Bruyne lost possession just outside his own penalty area to give Egypt the half-time lead.
This was doubled straight from the second half kick-off when Salah’s clever pass stunned Belgium’s static defense and Mahmoud Trezeguet’s left-footed finish on the counter-attack.
Lois Openda pulled one goal back with 14 minutes to go, thanks to Yannick Carrasco, who nearly equalized four minutes later.
But Egypt held on for the win with Salah coming close to scoring his own goal late on.
Belgium, which is second in the FIFA rankings and was a semi-finalist at the last World Cup, made several changes but showed little pace and cohesion with captain Eden Hazard looking bad.
They were able to get some playing time for veteran defender Jan Vertonghen, who had been an injury concern in recent weeks. He came in for the last 20 minutes.
Friday’s game marked the end of the pre-World Cup warm-ups before the start of the tournament on Sunday. Belgium faces Canada in their first Group F match on Wednesday.