Moscow: Mohamed Salah turned 26 on Friday, but the birthday boy and Egypt's talisman, who was declared fit after the shoulder injury suffered in the Champions League final, was left out of the starting line-up by coach Hector Cuper.
It became clear that he would play no part whatsoever in their Group A match against Uruguay when Amr Warda made way for Ramadan Sobhi in the 82nd minute with the scores still level.
Salah had gone off the pitch weeping after injury in the Champions League final. On Friday, once again there were tears in his eyes as he could only watch from the bench after Egypt conceded in the 89th minute to suffer a 1-0 loss to Uruguay at the Ekaterinburg Arena in Ekaterinburg.
Defender Jose Gimenez scored a very late header from a set piece in the match to save his Uruguay's blushes after their frontmen - Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani had failed to capitalise on the numerous chances.
“Mo Salah is an important player for us but you need to have a good team, and we have a good team. Salah will have an important role for us in the future matches. We wanted to avoid risks in this match (with Salah), but I think he will be fine for the next game,” the 62-year-old Egypt’s Argentine coach explained after the match about his decision to leave out Liverpool man.
The Barcelona man, Suarez, is considered as one of the most lethal strikers in the world for his finishing ability was off-colour in his sides' opening World Cup game.
In the 23rd minute, a corner-kick kindly fell to the 31-year-old striker but he fluffed his line to only fire a shot in the side netting from the close range. Him holding his hand over his mouth, gasping in disbelief made the telling image of the first half after both teams tried to nullify each other in an intense midfield battle.
Infamous for his biting incident in the 2014 World Cup, Suarez was then played through over the top of Egypt defence by Cavani. Suarez timed his run perfectly, but his shot was superbly saved by 'The Pharaohs' custodian Mohamed El Shenawy.
El Shenawy frustrates Uruguay
El Shenawy then kept his side in the game as he once again frustrated Suarez with a superb save after the striker once again skipped get past Egypt's backline.
He then thwarted Cavani's thunderous volley in the 83rd minute, after Salah's non-participation in the game was confirmed, with an acrobatic diving save after Suarez had headed the ball into the path of his strike partner on the edge of the box.
Although the 29-year-old keeper was left rooted the spot as Cavani's free-kick hit the far post, encouraging chances that Egypt might come away with a point against the strongest team in the Group A.
But, in the end, it was Atletico Madrid defender, Gimenez rose highest to meet the ball from a set piece and found the back of the net. Ekshenawy's all good work was undone, a fraction of a moment had changed the course of the game, breaking hearts of Egypt fans and the birthday boy, Mo Salah.
The win takes Uruguay to three points and the second spot in the table as hosts Russia lead the charts after their 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia on Thursday.
Egypt 0 lost to Uruguay 1 (Jose Gimenez 89th)