Russia scored three goals in a 15-minute span early in the second half to set up a 3-1 win over Egypt, moving the host nation to the brink of the World Cup's knockout stage.

Egypt's defender Ahmed Fathi (R) vies with Russia's midfielder Aleksandr Golovin during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Russia and Egypt at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June 19, 2018. Russia won 3-1.
Egypt's defender Ahmed Fathi (R) vies with Russia's midfielder Aleksandr Golovin during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Russia and Egypt at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June 19, 2018. Russia won 3-1. (AFP)

World Cup hosts Russia kept up their free-scoring ways to move to the brink of a second round place with a 3-1 win over Egypt in their Group A match at the Saint Petersburg Stadium on Tuesday.

Russia's place in the knockout stages will be secured on Wednesday if Uruguay avoid defeat against Saudi Arabia in the next Group A game.

TRT World's Paul Scott reports from St Petersburg.

Ahmed Fathi put the ball into his own net two minutes after halftime, followed by two goals in a three minute spell from Denis Cheryshev and Artem Dzyuba around the hour mark as Russia took their tournament goal tally to eight in two games.

Egyptian talisman Mohamed Salah, playing for the first time since injuring his shoulder in last month's Champions League final, pulled one back from a 73rd minute penalty, awarded after a review by the video assistant referee. 

Egyptian soccer fans watch the World Cup 2018 match between Egypt and Russia, at a cafe in Cairo, Egypt June 19, 2018.
Egyptian soccer fans watch the World Cup 2018 match between Egypt and Russia, at a cafe in Cairo, Egypt June 19, 2018. (Reuters)

Place in second round

World Cup hosts Russia virtually booked their place in the second round with a 3-1 win over Egypt on Tuesday that moved them to top of Group A with six points from two games.

Should Uruguay (3 points) beat Saudi Arabia (0 points) on Wednesday it will ensure the South Americans and the Russians go through to the round of 16 with a game to spare. 

A draw would also send the hosts through.

Egypt's midfielder Amr Warda (L) argues with Russia's defender Fedor Koudryashov during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Russia and Egypt at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June 19, 2018. Russia won 3-1.
Egypt's midfielder Amr Warda (L) argues with Russia's defender Fedor Koudryashov during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Russia and Egypt at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June 19, 2018. Russia won 3-1. (AFP)

It is an unexpectedly positive situation for a Russian side that came into this tournament amidst scepticism and pessimism at home. After the two confident victories, with eight goals, the public appear to have taken the team to their hearts.

Far from being over-awed by the pressure on them to perform, there is a real look of confidence and at times swagger about Stanislav Cherchesov's side, who beat Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening game.

Egypt's midfielder Amr Warda heads the ball during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Russia and Egypt at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June 19, 2018.
Egypt's midfielder Amr Warda heads the ball during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Russia and Egypt at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June 19, 2018. (AFP)

Egypt, whose final group game is against the Saudis, have only the slimmest of chances of staying in the tournament although they will at least be hopeful of picking up a first win in what is their third World Cup.

Hector Cuper's side looked confident given the return of their talisman Salah, but the forward was short of full sharpness and made little impact in what was a tight first half.

Russia's forward Artem Dzyuba and Russia's forward Artem Dzyuba celebrate the opening goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Russia and Egypt at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June 19, 2018.
Russia's forward Artem Dzyuba and Russia's forward Artem Dzyuba celebrate the opening goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Russia and Egypt at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June 19, 2018. (AFP)

But just two minutes after the interval, Russia got their breakthrough and they never looked back.

Aleksandr Golovin's cross was punched out by Egyptian keeper Mohamed El-Shenawy, only as far as Roman Zobnin whose low drive was heading wide until Ahmed Fathi's outstretched leg turned the ball into his own net.

Remarkably, it was the fifth own goal of the tournament so far. The record amount for a tournament is six in 1998.

If there was some good fortune to the opener, the Russians' second was pure quality.

Alexander Samedov pushed the ball out wide to Mario Fernandes, the Brazilian born right back who had powered forward from deep to deliver a perfect pull-back into the path of Denis Cheryshev who slotted home his third goal of the tournament.

Russia's forward Artem Dzyuba fights for the ball with Egypt's defender Ali Gabr (top) during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Russia and Egypt at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June 19, 2018.
Russia's forward Artem Dzyuba fights for the ball with Egypt's defender Ali Gabr (top) during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Russia and Egypt at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June 19, 2018. (AFP)

Two minutes later it was 3-0 via a route one play, as target man Artem Dzyuba chested down a long ball, bustled past Ali Gabr and drove home.

Salah, who had not played since going off injured in Liverpool's Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid last month, managed some consolation when he converted from the spot.

The penalty came after a video assistant referee (VAR) ruling that he had been brought down by Zobnin inside the area after the referee had initially awarded a free kick.

Source: Reuters