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Wednesday, 02 December 2020

Zamalek take revenge with shootout win over Ahly in Egyptian Super Cup

Hatem Maher , Thursday 20 Feb 2020
Ahly v Zamalek
Ahly's midfielder Aliou Dieng (C) vies for the ball against Zamalek's midfielder Tarek Hamed (R) during the Egyptian Super Cup final football match between Ahly SC and Zamalek (AFP)
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Zamalek avenged last year's defeat by Ahly in the Egyptian Super Cup by overcoming their bitter Cairo rivals in the same competition with a 4-3 shootout victory following a 0-0 draw in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

Ahly had the better of the first half but couldn't convert their chances while the second was a scrappy affair, with too many mis-placed passes disrupting the flow of the game.

The game went straight to penalties, where Zamalek prevailed with a comeback.

After both sides converted their first two spot-kicks, Zamalek's Moroccan playmaker Achraf Bencharki had his effort saved by Ahly keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi.

But Ahly could not seize on the miss, with Mohamed Hani's shot denied by a superb one-handed save from keeper Mohamed Abou-Gabal.

Defensive midfielder Tarek Hamed then found the top corner with a superb effort before Ahly's new recruit Aliou Badji fired straight at Abou-Gabal, with Zamalek's section of fans erupting into ecstasy.

A brawl broke out following the final whistle, apparently after Zamalek's duo Mahmoud Shikabala and Abdallah Gomaa celebrated in front of Ahly's angry supporters.

Mahmoud Kahraba, an ex-Zamalek winger who made his first appearance against his former club after coming on as a second-half substitute, was also shown a red card by Norwegian referee Svein Oddvar for his part in the melee.

The win marks Zamalek's second trophy in less than a week after they displayed a superb counter-attacking game to down Tunisia's Esperance 3-1 in the African Super Cup on Friday.

They also atoned for their 3-2 loss to Ahly in the Egyptian Super Cup last September to take their tally to four trophies. Ahly are the record winners of the competition with 11 titles.

Both sides are also scheduled to meet in the Egyptian Premier League on Monday, although reports suggest the game might be postponed to give both sides adequate time to prepare for their African Champions League clashes later this month.

Same strategy

Zamalek played with the same strategy that they adopted to a devastating effect in last week's win over Champions League holders Esperance in Qatar, sitting back to soak up pressure and trying to hit Ahly on the break.

However, Ahly's pressing game restricted Zamalek's breakaway attempts, while the Red Devils also spurned some chances to go ahead in a first half they dominated.

Ahly's best chance came as early as the fourth minute when Nigerian forward Junior Ajayi robbed defender Mohamed Abdel-Shafi on the edge of the area, only to see his effort blocked by the legs of Abou-Gabal. A follow-up effort from Angolan winger Geraldo hit the side netting.

Burly Malian midfielder Aliou Dieng also went close with a low shot that went just wide from the edge of the area.

Zamalek's livewire striker Mostafa Mohamed had a couple of half-chances but that was as good as it got for the White Knights, who were content not to take any risks.

A drab second half could not yield any goal-scoring chances, with both sides looking weary in an energy-sapping affair.

Abou-Gabal stole the show in the shootout as Zamalek celebrated wildly.

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

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