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Sunday, 18 February 2018

Zamalek claim second straight win at resilient Smouha

Omar Zaazou , Saturday 10 Feb 2018
Zamalek
Zamalek forward Mohamed Antar (Photo: Ahram)
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Zamalek secured their second straight Egyptian league win after beating Smouha 1-0, thanks to a second-half strike from winter-signing Mohamed Antar.

Having overcome lowly Tanta 2-1 last week, a stuttering Zamalek side were in dire need for another win to get back on track – which eventually came against a resilient Smouha side at Alexandria's Borg El-Arab Stadium.

The winner was scored by Antar in the 62nd minute following some admirable work from midfielder Tarek Hamed, giving Zamalek all three points.

Zamalek remain in fourth position of the league table on 39 points, piling up pressure on third-placed Masry who are two points clear but have a game in hand.

3-4-3 format

Zamalek manager Ehab Galal started the game with a 3-4-3 format, with newly-signed defender Mohamed Abdel-Ghani making his debut alongside Mahmoud Alaa and Mahmoud Hamdi at the back.

The formation featured natural midfielder Maarouf Yusuf play as wing-back out wide, as another midfielder in Emad Fathi was deployed on the right.

Zamalek appeared clearly unsettled at the back, conceding spaces out wide behind the wing-backs, with the central defenders still needing time to adapt to the new system.

As a result, Smouha came close in the 22nd minute when Oumed Oukri struck from inside the area towards goal – with defender Alaa clearing off his line.

The Cairo giants, on the other hand, could have well scored if it was not for the woodwork – which denied a brilliant curling effort from the cutting-inside Abdallah Gomaa following a successful counter by the visitors.

Just five minutes into the second half, another January-signing in midfielder Mahmoud Abdel-Aziz saw a header denied by ex-Zamalek keeper Mohamed Abo-Gabal, as the Whites looked to threaten after the break.

And the goal came 12 minutes afterwards when Egypt midfielder Hamed commendably pressured an opponent in midfield, as he managed to eventually play a through ball while slipping on the ground towards Antar.

The forward took a touch before hitting past Smouha keeper Abo-Gabal at the near post, scoring his debut Zamalek goal.

Smouha's Mohamed Hamdi Zaki came close in the 67th minute, striking high over when he should have done better from inside the area.

Zamalek wasted a multitude of chances that would have otherwise ensured their victory, but eventually managed to come up with all three points. 

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

 
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