Ahly made the most of some dreadful Zamalek mistakes to crush their cross-town rivals 3-0 in the Cairo derby on Monday, spoiling the debut of coach Ehab Galal and moving top of the Egyptian Premier League.
Some slack defending allowed Ahly to grab an early lead, thanks to a third-minute goal from winger Moemen Zakareya who had just agreed to join Jeddah-based club Ahly on loan until the end of the season.
Zamalek, who moved the ball around smoothly and poured forward after falling behind, struggled to create openings but had a golden chance to level the score when they were awarded a penalty in the 31st minute, only for out-of-favour striker Bassem Morsi to waste it after Ahly goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shennawi dived the right way.
The White Knights were punished for the miss at the other end, with experienced playmaker Abdallah El-Said converting another penalty three minutes before the break to give Ahly a 2-0 lead at halftime.
Moroccan striker Walid Azaro, who was taken off at the end after suffering a cut above his eye, completed the rout nine minutes after the restart when a slip by Zamalek keeper Ahmed El-Shennawi, who committed several costly errors throughout the match, left him with an easy finish after a brilliant assist from winger Walid Soliman.
Zamalek finished with ten men after substitute Mohamed Ibrahim was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Ahly extended their unbeaten league sequence against nemesis Zamalek to 17 matches in a run stretching back to 2007. Since then, Zamalek could only defeat Ahly twice in the Egypt Cup and once in the domestic Super Cup.
The bitter defeat ruined the debut of Ehab Galal, who took over at Zamalek on Saturday following the sacking of Montenegrin coach Nebojsa Jovovic. It also virtually ends their hopes of competing for the league title as they lie fourth on 28 points, 11 behind Ahly who have a game in hand.
Ahly have a two-point lead over main challengers Ismaily, with both sides playing the same number of games.
Bold strategy backfires
Galal, who is known for being an adventurous coach, adopted a bold strategy but Zamalek were taken by surprise after three minutes when their ex-winger Zakareya haunted them again with a clinical finish following a defensive lapse.
Zamalek's defensive midfielder Tarek Hamed buckled under pressure after receiving a pass from off-form goalkeeper Ahmed El-Shennawi, allowing Walid Soliman to steal possession and muscle his way past a couple of challengers before squaring for the unmarked Zakareya to slot home with aplomb from eight yards out.
Ahly eased off after taking the lead, allowing Zamalek to gain the upper hand in terms of possession although goal-scoring chances were at a premium.
Zamalek poured forward but struggled to find gaps in a steadfast Ahly backline.
However, their pressure almost paid dividends when the referee pointed to the spot just past the half-hour mark after lively right-back Hazem Emam was felled by a mis-timed tackle from Zakareya.
Morsi, who has been struggling to recapture the form that saw him finish as league's top scorer in Zamalek's triumphant 2014-15 campaign, could not open his account this season after his tame effort was blocked by Ahly's towering goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shennawi.
Ahly's breakaways caused mayhem in the Zamalek area in the latter stages of the first half, with one of them resulting in a penalty in the 42nd minute.
Tunisian left-back Ali Maaloul latched onto a superb long ball from El-Said to beat the offside trap and surge to the left hand side of the area, only to be tripped by El-Shennawi.
Spot-kick specialist El-Said blasted his effort into the top corner of the net to make matters worse for Zamalek, who were lucky not to fall 3-0 on the stroke of halftime when a poor pass from El-Shennawi was intercepted by Moroccan striker Walid Azaro, who somehow shot straight back at the keeper with the goal at his mercy.
But Ahly still ensured a bigger win, adding the third in the 54th minute to end the match as a contest.
From a trademark counter attack, Soliman released Azaro with a wonderful pass with the outside of his foot. El-Shennawi slipped to leave the Moroccan, who escaped the attention of marker Ali Gabr, with a simple finish.
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