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Monday, 17 February 2020

Champions Ahly outclass arch-rivals Zamalek to finish league season unbeaten

In a replication to their meeting in the first half of the season, Ahly again prevailed 2-0 against arch-rivals Zamalek - with Junior Ajayi scoring in the dying minutes once again

Omar Zaazou , Monday 17 Jul 2017
Ahly and Zamalek (Al-Ahram)
Ahly and Zamalek (Al-Ahram)
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Egyptian league champions Ahly ensured they ended their campaign unbeaten after outclassing arch rivals Zamalek 2-0 in the final game of the season at Alexandria's Borg El-Arab Stadium on Monday.

In a meaningless affair for both teams, with Ahly already crowned league champions and Zamalek guaranteeing a third-place finish, goals either side of the interval from Walid Soliman and Junior Ajayi ensured the Reds ended their campaign on a high note.

Hossam El-Badry's men replicated their 2-0 win against Zamalek in the first half of the season, with Nigerian forward Ajayi peculiarly scoring his side's second in both meetings in the dying minutes.

Ahly now finished their league season on 84 points, 10 ahead of second-placed Maqassa. Zamalek secured a CAF Confederation Cup -qualifying third place with 66 points.

 Ahly outclass lackluster Zamalek   

Ahly were the dominant side throughout the first half, with Zamalek boss Augusto Inacio opting for his preferred approach: sitting back and closing down spaces inside his own half.

With the hosts in control, Ahly lone striker Ajayi had the chance to put his side in front in as early as the fifth minute, only to blast his effort high over the bar.   

Young Zamalek keeper Omar Salah, who was given the nod ahead of the more experience Mahmoud Gennesh, was called into action in the 17th minute when he tipped over a powerful Ali Maaloul free kick from the right.

But with the Whites unable to move the ball forward and force spells of pressure, it seemed Ahly's lead was quite coming – which indeed happened four minutes from time.

Playmaker Saleh Gomaa was given all the time to play a diagonal cross towards Ajayi inside the area, before the Nigerian laid the ball off to the unmarked Soliman who swept the ball past keeper Salah.

Ajayi kills off the game

Seven minutes into the second half, keeper Salah came to thwart a Soliman strike from outside the area, as Ahly continued to dictate play.

Zamalek manager Inacio intervened by the introduction of Mostafa Fathi instead of isolated lone striker Hossam Salama in an attempt to improve his side's attack.

And despite bringing on Mahmoud Abdel-Aati and striker Bassem Morsi afterwards, Zamalek struggled to pose threat until Ahly came close through Moemen Zakareya in the 81st minute.

After being found unmarked inside the area, Zakreya missed the target when he could have done better, just two minutes before Zamalek forward Stanley Ohawuchi was guilty of another glaring miss on the other end.   

Following an inroad by the skillful Fathi down the right, the substitute squared the ball towards Ohawuchi whose terrible attempt from close range was easily gathered by keeper Sherif Ekramy.

From thereon, Zamalek improved and defender Ali Gabr saw a header go wide of the post following a corner kick as Inacio's men looked close to bagging the equaliser.

It was Ahly, however, who made sure of victory in the last minute of regular time on the counter, when substitute Abdallah El-Said passed the ball towards Ajayi inside the area as the latter curled the ball into the net despite being under the watch of center-back Mahmoud Hamdi.  

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

 
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