Egypt's Zamalek snatch last-gasp equaliser but leave Confed Cup hopes in tatters

Hatem Maher , Sunday 24 Feb 2019

File photo of Zamalek (Ahram)

Egypt's Zamalek struck deep in stoppage time to avoid a shock home defeat at the hands of Angola's Petro Atletico but the 1-1 draw leaves their hopes to reach the African Confederation Cup knockout stage hanging by a thread.

The team's defensive vulnerabilities, which were also to blame for recent stumbles including a 1-1 draw at home to Algeria's NA Hussein Dey in their previous Confederation Cup game, proved costly again at Alexandria's Borg El-Arab Stadium.

Tiago Azulao punished some dreadful defending to put Petro Atletico ahead on the hour mark but deep-lying forward Youssef Ibrahim secured a share of spoils with a free header at the death to keep alive Zamalek's faint hopes of making up lost ground in Africa's secondary club competition.

The White Knights remain winless with two draws and a defeat in their first three matches of Group D as they lie at the bottom with two points, two behind NA Hussein Dey and Petro Atletico and four adrift of leaders Gor Mahia of Kenya.

Unlike recent matches, when Zamalek were often criticised for failing to convert the numerous clear-cut chances they usually create, they appeared bereft of ideas against a well-drilled Atletico defence, which kept them at bay for the majority of the game.  

Zamalek had territorial dominance but could not find way through a steadfast visiting rearguard marshaled by the impressive Danilson.

They only had two half-chances in a drab first half, with Ferjani Sassi's seventh-minute free kick spilled by the keeper and Ibrahim blasting high over from a good position after a through pass from Mahmoud Kahraba on 21 minutes.

The second half was no different, with Zamalek only managing to create one genuine goal-scoring chance in the early stages when Morocco striker Khalid Boutaib mis-hit his shot with the goal at his mercy after a pull-back from Hamdi Nagguez found him unmarked.

Zamalek were caught by surprise on 60 minutes after some shambolic defending as Petro Atletico silenced the enthusiastic home crowd.

Tony shook off two challengers near the byline before whipping in a cross that was slid home by Azulao after he caught the central defenders napping.

Zamalek piled on pressure in the latter stages but struggled to carve out openings until three minutes into stoppage time when an inviting cross from left-back Abdallah Gomaa found Ibrahim to head home, giving the team a glimmer of hope.

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