Egypt midfielder Mohammed Aboutrika celebrated his 100th cap by scoring one goal and creating three in a 4-2 World Cup qualifying win over 10-man Guinea on Tuesday.
The result of the Group H dead rubber maintained the 100 percent record of the Pharaohs as they chase a first World Cup appearance since the 1990 finals in Italy.
Aboutrika is the ninth Egyptian soccer player to reach the 100-cap milestone and retired compatriot Ahmed Hassan holds the world record with 184 national team appearances.
Egypt finished with 18 points, Guinea 10, Mozambique three and Zimbabwe two in a group dominated from start to finish by the seven-time African champions.
A draw in Cairo on Monday will decide who Egypt face in a two-leg playoff in next month and November, with the winners securing a place at next year’s World Cup in Brazil.
Fears of crowd trouble in politically turbulent and security sensitive Egypt meant the game was staged in El-Gouna — far from popular soccer venues Cairo and Alexandria. It was the first time the Pharaohs have played at the Red Sea watersports resort, 450km northeast of the capital city, Cairo.
The rudimentary 12,000-seat stadium has also been used recently for African club fixtures by Cairo powerhouses al-Ahly and Zamalek.
Egypt made a disastrous start, falling behind after only four minutes, when Adam El Abd from English second-tier outfit Brighton conceded an own-goal.
A mix-up between El Abd and goalkeeper Sherif Ekrami led to the early bonus for Guinea as they sought to avenge a 3-2 home loss last year.
The home side gradually took control and almost leveled midway through the half, when goalkeeper Naby Yattara clawed away a Shikabala free-kick.
Ibrahima Bangoura had a half-chance at the other end five minutes later, but his tame effort trickled into the hands of Ekrami.
Egypt equalized seven minutes before the break, when Hossam Ghaly volleyed into the net after an Abou Trika free-kick was not cleared.
Early second-half drama saw Guinea captain Kamil Zayatte red carded for handling a goal-bound shot and Aboutrika converted the resulting penalty. However, 10-man Guinea hit back six minutes later, when Seydouba Soumah beat El Abd to the ball and raced clear to score.
Yattara saved superbly from Shikabala and Guinea substitute Mohammed Yattara was spared embarrassment by being ruled offside after missing a sitter. Egypt nudged in front again with seven minutes left and Aboutrika was involved once more, back-flicking the ball to Mohammed Salah, who rounded the goalkeeper and scored.
There was no stopping Aboutrika as he put Amr Zaki through and a drive from the substitute went in via a deflection off Mohammed Sakho.
The curtain came down on the 120-match second round six hours later, when Group H winners Algeria defeated Mali 1-0 in another dead rubber.
Croatia-based striker El Arabi Soudani was the match-winner in Blida, southwest of Algiers, with a goal for the Desert Foxes six minutes after halftime.
Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde Islands, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Senegal topped the other groups and secured places in the playoffs draw.