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Sunday, 26 May 2019

Zamalek survive Enppi scare to go six points clear on top of Egyptian league

Hatem Maher , Sunday 17 Feb 2019
Zamalek
Khalid Boutaib (R) netted his first league goal with Zamalek (Ahram)
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Zamalek endured some anxious moments but another upset in the space of four days was not meant to be as they grabbed a 2-1 victory over Enppi to go six points clear on top of the Egyptian Premier League table on Sunday.

It initially looked like a comfortable night for the White Knights, who were heavily blamed for their profligacy during a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Algeria's NA Hussein Dey in the African Confederation Cup last Wednesday, as they took a 2-0 lead at halftime.

Morocco striker Khalid Boutaib netted his first league goal and his second following his January arrival after robbing Enppi keeper Amr Hossam and winger Mahmoud Kahraba added the second just before the break to take his tally to 10 goals in the competition.

However, Enppi halved the deficit early in the second half, thanks to a goal from substitute Mohamed Bassiouni, and were unlucky on a couple of occasions as Zamalek appeared shaky under pressure.

The Cairo giants also wasted some easy chances in the latter stages, failing to kill off the game. But at least they managed to bag all three points for their 12th victory in their last 13 games to go six points clear of second-placed Pyramids FC, who played two games more.

Defending champions Ahly lie third, nine points behind Zamalek but with a game in hand. Enppi are fourth from bottom with 21 points, ahead of the relegation zone on goal difference.

Little resistance

Zamalek found little resistance from Enppi in a first half they dominated, with the visitors failing to string passes together when they gained possession.

The first warning came through Kahraba after nine minutes when a superb threaded pass from forward Youssef Ibrahim released him but he skied his shot high over.

An unexpected gift from Enppi keeper Hossam gave Zamalek the lead in the 21st minute, with Boutaib making the most of his hesitancy to slot into an empty net.

Kahraba made it 2-0 on the stroke of halftime after an inch-perfect diagonal cross from new recruit Ahmed Sayed, who made his debut after joining from Portugal's Moreirense last month, found him unmarked.

His poor control could have let him down but he redeemed himself to swivel and curl the ball beyond the advancing keeper and into the corner of the net from inside the area.

In an end-to-end second half, Enppi threatened to stage a remarkable comeback after pulling one back in the 56th minute.

Bassiouni fed Chadrack Lukombe on the right and the Congolese winger skipped past Zamalek's left-back Abdallah Gomaa to send a low cross which eluded keeper Mahmoud Gennesh and found Bassiouni, who side-footed the ball into an unguarded net.

The lively Lukombe could have turned from provider to scorer seven minutes later, turning central defender Mahmoud Alaa inside out with a superb piece of individual skill but his close-range effort was thwarted by Gennesh, who earlier smothered another goal-bound volley from Mahmoud Kaoud.

At the other end, Boutaib spurned two gilt-edged chances after going clear on goal and also had a close-range shot denied by the post before Youssef Ibrahim rattled the crossbar with a powerful drive from inside the area.

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

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