Salah Scores Four, Lesotho Shock Nigeria in World Cup Qualifying

Mohamed Salah (L) of Liverpool celebrates with teammate Konstantinos Tsimikas after scoring the 2-0 goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool FC and Brentford FC, in Liverpool, Britain, 12 November 2023. (EPA)
Mohamed Salah (L) of Liverpool celebrates with teammate Konstantinos Tsimikas after scoring the 2-0 goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool FC and Brentford FC, in Liverpool, Britain, 12 November 2023. (EPA)
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Salah Scores Four, Lesotho Shock Nigeria in World Cup Qualifying

Mohamed Salah (L) of Liverpool celebrates with teammate Konstantinos Tsimikas after scoring the 2-0 goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool FC and Brentford FC, in Liverpool, Britain, 12 November 2023. (EPA)
Mohamed Salah (L) of Liverpool celebrates with teammate Konstantinos Tsimikas after scoring the 2-0 goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool FC and Brentford FC, in Liverpool, Britain, 12 November 2023. (EPA)

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah scored four goals as Egypt trounced Djibouti 6-0, and minnows Lesotho pulled off a shock 1-1 draw in Nigeria in World Cup qualifying on Thursday.

After reaching the 200-goal mark in English football last Sunday, Salah netted twice in each half of a Group A matchday one romp in Cairo. Mostafa Mohamed and Trezeguet also scored.

Djibouti are ranked 154 places below Egypt and survived for only 17 minutes before a low cross eluded two defenders and Salah fired into the net at the far post, AFP reported.

He slammed a penalty over goalkeeper Sulait Luyima and into the roof of the net five minutes later to give record seven-time African champions Egypt a two-goal lead by half-time.

Salah completed his hat-trick with a tap over the line at the far post on 48 minutes and netted again on 69 minutes with a close-range shot into the far corner.

The two-time African Footballer of the Year has scored 52 goals for Egypt, who are seeking a fourth World Cup appearance, with Canada, Mexico and the United States hosting the 2026 finals.

Nigeria are 113 places above Lesotho in the world rankings and were expected to make a winning start in Group C despite the absence through injury of star forward Victor Osimhen.

But Lesotho stunned the nome crowd in the southeastern city of Uyo by taking a 56th-minute lead when Motlomelo Mkhwanazi rose at the far post to nod home after a corner.

Nigeria equalised 11 minutes later when Semi Ajayi, who plays for English second-tier club West Bromwich Albion, scored with a powerful header off a corner taken by captain Kelechi Iheanacho.

Aided by a second-minute own goal in Algiers, four-time World Cup qualifiers Algeria defeated lowly ranked Somalia 3-1 in Group G.

After a low cross struck Ahmed Abdi and entered the Somali net, Baghdad Bounedjah doubled the lead before half-time.

Yusuf Ahmed halved the deficit midway through the second half and Algeria had to wait until 10 minutes from time before restoring a two-goal lead through Islam Slimani.

Kenya, back in international football after a FIFA ban for political interference prevented them playing in 2024 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying, lost 2-1 away to Gabon in Group F.

Masoud Juma put Kenya ahead just before half-time in Franceville, Denis Bouanga levelled on the hour mark and Guelor Kanga snatched an 88th-minute winner for the home side.



Buoyant Hamilton Seeking to Keep Momentum and More Records

Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after winning the Formula One British Grand Prix at the Silverstone motor racing circuit in Silverstone, central England, on July 7, 2024. (Photo by BENJAMIN CREMEL / AFP)
Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after winning the Formula One British Grand Prix at the Silverstone motor racing circuit in Silverstone, central England, on July 7, 2024. (Photo by BENJAMIN CREMEL / AFP)
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Buoyant Hamilton Seeking to Keep Momentum and More Records

Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after winning the Formula One British Grand Prix at the Silverstone motor racing circuit in Silverstone, central England, on July 7, 2024. (Photo by BENJAMIN CREMEL / AFP)
Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after winning the Formula One British Grand Prix at the Silverstone motor racing circuit in Silverstone, central England, on July 7, 2024. (Photo by BENJAMIN CREMEL / AFP)

A buoyant Lewis Hamilton heads into this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix on the crest of a wave, seeking a record-increasing ninth Hungaroring victory and Mercedes' third consecutive win of the season.
After two years of struggles, Hamilton ended his long winless run at the British Grand Prix with a record ninth home triumph at Silverstone and hopes to repeat that feat in forecast intense heat at the track where last year he secured his most recent pole position, AFP said.
Following his emotional success in front of an adoring crowd in the English rain, Hamilton said he felt excited at the prospect of returning to a track where he has scored several memorable victories in his career.
"I love Hungary," he said. "And so I am definitely looking forward to going there. The trajectory we're now on and the fact that the car is starting to really, really come alive and feel great. I can't wait."
The 39-year-old seven-time world champion won at the Hungaroring -- a tight, twisty and often dusty circuit 22 kilometers north of Budapest -- in his debut season for McLaren in 2007 and again in 2009 and 2012.
After switching to Mercedes, he continued to relish the unique challenge of a track often described as 'Monaco without the walls' and won again in 2013, 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
If he secures a podium finish this Sunday, it will be the 200th of his career, a pole position would be a record-extending 10th, landmark achievements that set him apart as he bids to add to team-mate George Russell's victory in Austria and his own in Britain.
He and Russell know, however, that they will not be favorites despite their recent successes as defending three-time champion Max Verstappen of Red Bull bids to complete a hat-trick of Hungarian wins after triumphs in 2022 and last year.
"Last year was brilliant," said Verstappen. "I have good memories of racing here and last year achieved our 12th win in a row. So, hopefully, we can have a great race again."
Midway point
The Dutchman leads the title race by 84 points ahead of nearest rival and friend Lando Norris of McLaren as the season crosses the midway point after 12 of the scheduled 24 races.
Team boss Christian Horner expects a close scrap.
"It's going to be interesting to see how we perform there," he said.
"It could be very hot and I think it will be the usual people who are quick at the moment and it will be very, very close again."
That suggests Horner considers Red Bull will be fighting with McLaren and Mercedes on recent evidence, but with Ferrari likely to return to form on a tighter circuit –- not unlike Monaco where Charles Leclerc gained an emotional home win in May.
With the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps following immediately, within a week, the double-header offers an opportunity for teams to make a telling impact before Formula One takes its annual 'summer shutdown' during August.
This will translate as more pressure for struggling Sergio Perez of Red Bull who is hoping to escape a nightmare run having scored only 15 points in his last six outings since agreeing a new contract.
Ferrari are also in need of a solid result from Leclerc but have struggled with a recent upgrade package that failed.
"When you're at the sharp end, it's all marginal gains," said Horner. "Mercedes were very quick at Silverstone, took pole and the front row and then executed a good race... at least Lewis did."
His Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff admitted: "We have momentum and gained headline results in Austria and at Silverstone, but we don't yet have a car to challenge for victories every weekend.
"The Hungaroring is very different in character to the last two circuits. We will focus on doing the best we can and hope to maintain our trajectory."