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Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Zamalek win Egypt Cup for fourth straight time after another final victory over Ahly

Hatem Maher , Tuesday 9 Aug 2016
Ahly vs Zamalek
Bassem Morsi of Zamalek celebrates the first goal in the game against Ahly. (REUTERS)
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A brace from Bassem Morsi, who was also the hero of last year's final against the same opponent, gave Zamalek a fourth successive Egypt Cup title following a 3-1 victory over arch-rivals Ahly in a thrilling final in Alexandria on Monday.

A quick-fire first-half double, including a penalty, by the combative striker put Zamalek 2-0 up after 25 minutes despite a cautious start but Ahly narrowed the deficit when Abdallah El-Said converted another spot-kick less than 10 minutes later.

Zamalek were then lucky to survive a barrage of attacks as Ahly moved the ball around smoothly, exposing some defensive and midfield gaps to outpace their opponents, especially on the flanks.

However, in a second half breakaway, substitute Mostafa Fathi scored against the run of play after a brilliant individual effort to deal a devastating blow to Ahly's chances of staging a comeback at a time when the Red Devils were in almost total control.

Matters went from bad to worse for Ahly in the dying minutes when two players were sent off. Skipper Hossam Ghaly received a second yellow card for a studs-up challenge on Morsi and right-back Ahmed Fathi was also booked again for a handball.

Zamalek's coach Moemen Soliman enjoyed his first trophy at the helm after taking over on an interim basis following the sacking of Mohamed Helmi, with the club winning the title four times in a row for the first time in their history.

This feat was achieved by Ahly, the record winners with 35 titles to Zamalek's 25, in the early 1980s.

Both sides will also clash in the Egyptian Super Cup, which is likely to take place in the United Arab Emirates in October, after Ahly had won their ninth Premier League title in 10 seasons.

Zamalek also defeated Ahly 2-0 in last year's cup final, a victory that ended their eight-year winless run against their nemesis.

2-0 lead

The first quarter of an hour was too cautious, with the only highlight being a facial injury Ahly's central defender Saad Samir sustained after being elbowed by Zamalek striker Morsi, who was lucky to escape with just a yellow card.

This incident proved crucial as Samir appeared heavily affected by the injury, with the match bursting into life with a sudden opening goal on 20 minutes.

Morsi, who scored eight goals in the previous 11 matches in all competitions, escaped the attention of Samir to slide in a perfect diagonal cross from right winger Shikabala from close range as keeper Ahmed Adel was at fault for not reacting before Morsi got on the end of the ball.

There was barely time for Ahly to recover as another mistake by Samir proved costly, with the defender, who continued with a bandaged face, being tricked by Shikabala into pushing him on the right hand side of the area.

Morsi struck straight down the middle as Adel dived the wrong way, but Zamalek needlessly sat back after going 2-0 up, allowing Ahly to launch a wave of attacks in an exciting first half.

Zamalek's full-backs were largely outplayed and Ahly's winger Walid Soliman in particular caused constant menace down the right until they were awarded a deserved penalty on 33 minutes when lone striker Amr Gamal, who was an otherwise peripheral figure, fell to the ground after being tugged by defender Islam Gamal.

El-Said sent the keeper the wrong way and Ahly upped the tempo, leaving their challengers chasing shadows for large periods with an intricate passing game.

But Fathi ended their hopes in the 59th minute when he fed Hefni and then made a jinking run into the area to receive a return chipped pass before bamboozling Samir with a superb feint, poking the ball over the advancing keeper and into the corner of the net.

The goal clearly affected Ahly's morale and Zamalek defended doggedly in the latter stages to secure another cup triumph.

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