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Late goals lift Zamalek through in Confed Cup after exciting win in Morocco

Hatem Maher , Monday 4 May 2015
Zamalek vs FUS Rabat
Zamalek were held to a 0-0 first-leg draw at home to FUS Rabat of Morocco in the CAF Confederation Cup roundof 16 (Photo: Zamalek's official website)
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Two late goals propelled Zamalek to an exciting 3-2 victory at Morocco's FUS Rabat as they advanced to another last-16 stage of the African Confederation Cup on Sunday where they can meet nemesis and Cairo foes Ahly.

Zamalek, who struggled to create any goal-scoring chances in a dull 0-0 first-leg draw, went ahead on aggregate via a Bassem Morsi header on the quarter-hour mark to leave FUS needing two goals to progress.

Despite grabbing the lead, Zamalek were punished for an ultra-cautious strategy when Marwane Saadane headed home five minutes before the break before a lucky strike from Mourad Batna on 72 minutes sent the home fans into raptures.

Zamalek's fan favourite Omar Gaber finished off a flowing move six minutes from time to make it 2-2 and regain the team's advantage before substitute Hazem Emam made sure of their progress with a stoppage time goal.

The White Knights, who are making their first appearance in the Confederation Cup since the competition's new format was introduced in 2004, may face bitter rivals Ahly in the last 16 after the Red Devils were eliminated from the African Champions League at the hands of Morocco's Moghreb Tetouan following a penalty shootout.

The draw for the Champions League and Confederation Cup will take place at the headquarters of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) on Tuesday.

Packed midfield

A packed Zamalek midfield, comprising defensive-minded players, stifled FUS's early attempts as coach Jesualdo Ferreira opted for a cautious approach.

Zamalek relied on Morsi's physical presence upfront to unsettle the opposing backline and he lived up to expectations with a commanding display.

He drew a fine save from FUS goalkeeper Alaa Meskini with a long-range right-foot shot after 10 minutes before opening the scoring five minutes later to stun the home crowd at Prince Moulay Hassan.

Midfielder Ahmed Tawfik whipped in an inch-perfect cross for Morsi to rise unmarked and head the ball between the legs of Meskini and into the net.

FUS then dominated possession to lay siege to Zamalek's area, although they still struggled to break down a dogged backline marshaled by Ali Gabr and Burkinabe Mohamed Koffi.

However, they created their first chance on 38 minutes when Gabr was robbed on the edge of the area and Youssoupha Nje drilled a low that was superbly saved by towering keeper Ahmed El-Shennawy, who was one of Zamalek's best performers.

FUS made amends two minutes later when Mohamed Chihani darted down the right and sent a cross that evaded Gabr and found Saadane, who held off right-back Omar Gaber and headed home.

In the second half, the hosts continued from where they left off, forcing Ferreira to introduce wingers Mostafa Fathi and Hazem Emam in an attempt to soak up pressure.

El-Shennawy produced a superb reflex save to thwart a curling free-kick from Batna but he was powerless to prevent him from scoring a fortuitous goal in the 72nd minute.

Batna's cross from the right eluded Koffi and his FUS challenger and nestled into the corner of the net, leaving El-Shennawy rooted to the spot.

Ferreira introduced another striker in Ahmed Ali in the latter stages as Zamalek piled on pressure which paid off with six minutes remaining following a neat move involving Morsi, Ali and Gaber.

Morsi sidestepped a challenger on the edge of the area before a catchy feint took him past another, threading a pass for Ali whose back-heel found Gaber to lash a powerful shot into the top corner of the net from inside the area.

The goal put Zamalek in the driving seat on the away goal rule but Emam put the result beyond doubt in stoppage time with a low shot into bottom corner from a tight angle.

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

 
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