Late surge gives youthful-looking Zamalek victory in Alexandria

Hatem Maher, Sunday 13 Apr 2014

Zamalek move third after two late goals give them a 2-0 victory at Haras El-Hodoud in the Egyptian Premier League on Sunday

Zamalek v Haras El-Hodoud (File photo: Ahram)

Two familiar substitutions proved decisive again as a youthful-looking Zamalek side claimed two successive wins for the first time this season after beating Haras El-Hodoud 2-0 in the Egyptian Premier League on Sunday.

El-Hodoud looked livelier in the first half and were unlucky not to open the scoring after the restart when a poor penalty from midfielder Moataz Ino was easily blocked by Zamalek skipper Abdel-Wahed El-Sayed.

The spot-kick was awarded to El-Hodoud after defender Mahmoud Fathallah clumsily shoved Mostafa Gamal just inside the area.

However, coach Mido made the same two substitutions which tipped the scale in Zamalek's favour during their hard-fought 3-2 victory over Wadi Degla, introducing attacking midfielders Mostafa Fathi and Youssef Ibrahim.

Both combined on several occasions to help Zamalek unlock a tight defence, with defender Yasser Ibrahim breaking the deadlock on 74 minutes before lone striker Ahmed Ali wrapped up the win six minutes later.

The Cairo giants, who are chasing their first league title in 10 years, moved third in Group B for the first time this season. They have 22 points from 13 matches, two short of second-placed Ismaily who played a game more.

Leaders Petrojet have 29 points from 15 matches as the race for the top two spots hots up in a crucial stage of the season. The group winners and runners-up will qualify for a mini-league phase to determine the champion.

Lack of imagination

El-Hodoud winger Ahmed Sabry unsettled Zamalek's backline with his pace and trickery down the left, wasting a couple of first-half chances to open the scoring.

He toyed with three defenders and hit the side netting from a tight angle after 6 minutes before curling a left-foot shot that went over the crossbar on 14 minutes.

Zamalek had the better possession in the second half but they still lacked imagination, with playmaker Moemen Zakareya unable to impress.

They had a half-chance on the stroke of halftime when striker Ali turned to skip past his marker on the edge of the area before skewing his shot high over.

The visitors only improved when youngsters Fathi and Youssef Ibrahim, nicknamed Obama, were thrown into the fray to inject some zeal into a sluggish frontline that hardly troubled El-Hodoud's relaxed defence.

Ino's weak-spot kick on the hour mark proved a turning point, with Zamalek carving out openings that eventually saw them go ahead in the 74th minute.

A header by Fathallah following a free-kick was parried by El-Hodoud keeper into the path of central defender Yasser Ibrahim, who superbly swiveled to volley home at the near post.

Ali made the points safe when he flicked the ball over his challenger and muscled his way into the area before placing the ball beyond the advancing shot-stopper.

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