Leaders Ahly go four clear of arch rivals Zamalek ahead of Cairo derby

Hatem Maher , Wednesday 3 Feb 2016

Ahly beat ENPPI 2-0 in the Egyptian Premier League on Wednesday (Ahram)

Striker Amr Gamal scored his first goal in four months as leaders Ahly beat ENPPI 2-0 in the Egyptian Premier League to move four points clear of perennial rivals Zamalek ahead of next week's Cairo derby.

Gamal, an injury-prone frontman whose last goal was in an African Confederation Cup game last October, gave Ahly a first-half lead before substitute Moemen Zakareya wrapped up the win 10 minutes from time.

The Red Devils appeared hardly distracted by some off-field problems as they continued their fine run under caretaker coach and club icon Abdel-Aziz Abdel-Shafi 'Zizo', under whom they bagged maximum nine points from three matches following victories over Ismaily, Ittihad and ENPPI.

Ahly's elected board of directors was dissolved due to what the court called "procedural error" in the elections but was reinstated by the sports minister until new elections are held.

The team are also without a permanent boss following the resignation of Jose Peseiro, who took over at Portuguese giants Porto last month. They attempted to lure former Bayern Munich boss Felix Magath but he turned down their offer on Tuesday, saying the country was not stable.

Ahly, whose eight-season league hegemony was ended by Zamalek last season, top the table with 35 points, four ahead of the White Knights, who slumped to a 1-0 defeat by Ismaily earlier in the day. Both sides clash in an anticipated Cairo derby next Tuesday.

Bold approach

ENPPI's bold approach left them exposed at the back, with Ahly launching a wave after wave of attacks in a first half they totally dominated.

However, it was ENPPI who could have gone ahead after nine minutes in bizarre fashion when a free-kick from keeper Mohamed Abdel-Monsef near their penalty area bounced in front of Ahly's guardian Sherif Ekramy and over his head at the other end. The Egyptian international somehow managed to claw the ball away just before it crosses the line.

Ahly then took firm control, with in-form playmaker Abdallah El-Said, who played behind attacking duo John Antwi and Amr Gamal, sending numerous astute passes to the frontline.

One of his defence-splitting passes released winger Ramadan Sobhi but he blasted his shot high over with the goal at his mercy. In a carbon copy move, Ghanaian striker Antwi also fired over the bar after breaking clear.

Abdel-Monsef produced an excellent triple-save to thwart the vibrant Ahly in the 31st minute.

A header from El-Said from the edge of the area was tipped by Abdel-Monsef onto the post before he palmed Sobhi's follow-up attempt. Antwi headed goalwards on the rebound but the former Zamalek shot-stopper smothered his effort.

However, Abdel-Monsef was at fault for the opener five minutes later when he let a tame shot from Amr Gamal, who skillfully skipped past his challenger inside the area, squirm beneath him at the near post.

ENPPI briefly threatened in the early stages of the second half but Ahly ensured their win with a firm header from substitute Zakareya with 10 minutes remaining.

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