Ahly, Zamalek share honours in exciting 2-2 derby draw

Hatem Maher , Sunday 19 Jun 2022

Ahly and Zamalek played out an exciting 2-2 draw in a see-saw Cairo derby clash on Sunday that could have gone either way, with both sides likely to rue a missed opportunity to claim a precious Egyptian Premier League win.

Ahly 2-2 Zamalek

It was all Ahly in an otherwise drab first half, with striker Mohamed Sherif giving them an early opener following a dreadful blunder from Zamalek's central defender Mohamed Abdel-Ghani.

Ahly's early domination gave their supporters hope that they can demolish their bitter rivals again following a 5-3 victory in the reverse fixture in November last year, but a depleted Zamalek side comprising four young players came on with all guns blazing in the second half.

Veteran schemer Mahmoud Shikabala came on after the break to make all the difference, setting up Achraf Bencharki for the equaliser before scoring himself on 76 minutes after being teed up by fellow substitute Youssef Nabih, the son of assistant coach Osama Nabih.

However, two Ahly substitutes combined to restore parity and secure a share of spoils four minutes later, with Taher Mohamed's cross headed home by Salah Mohsen at the far post.

The draw kept alive Zamalek's hopes of defending their league crown, given that a loss would have handed Ahly the chance to pull eight points clear on top if they win their rescheduled games.

Zamalek lead the table with 45 points, four clear of third-placed Ahly, who have three games in hand.

Early opener  

Ahly's caretaker coach Sami Komsan was out to prove a point following the sudden departure of South African boss Pitso Mosimane while Zamalek's veteran manager Jesualdo Ferreira played with conservative tactics due to an obvious gulf in class between both sides.

The only highlight of a first-half low on quality was Ahly's 12th-minute opener, with Abdel-Ghani inexplicably heading a tame long ball into the path of Sherif while trying to clear it to volley home with aplomb from eight yards out.

Despite falling behind, Zamalek stayed true to their cautious approach to avoid the calamity of the reverse fixture when Ahly ran riot in the first half.

However, Ahly could have doubled their lead four minutes later when a deflected shot found the unmarked Magdi Afsha, who was just onside, but the playmaker's low effort forced a fine save from Zamalek keeper Mohamed Awad.

Zamalek's only half-chance fell to winger Ahmed Zizo two minutes before the break.

He sneaked into the area after a give-and-go with youngster Sayed Abdallah, who played as a right wing-back due to the absence of Hazem Emam and Tunisian Hamza Mathlouthi, but fired over the crossbar from a tight angle.

Shikabala revitalized Zamalek's attack after the restart, with his swerving cross finding Moroccan winger Bencharki to rise unmarked and head home from close range in the 68th minute.

He turned from provider to scorer with 14 minutes remaining to spark wild celebrations among his teammates.

Nabih outran and outmuscled his challenger down the left and sent in a low cross that eluded the dive of keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi. Tunisian left-back Ali Maaloul then had a chance to clear it but he somehow mis-hit his kick and Shikabala drilled into an empty net.

But Zamalek's joy was short-lived as forward Mohsen was picked out by a cross from Taher to tower at the far post and head past Mohamed Awad, who clawed it away after it had crossed the goal-line.

Zamalek could have snatched a win at the death, but a shot from Emam Ashour rattled the bar from inside the area and a volley from Nabih was smothered by a superb reflex save from El-Shennawi in stoppage time.

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