Zamalek ease woes with 2-0 victory in Egyptian league opener

Ahram Online , Saturday 12 Dec 2020

Zamalek, who failed to win any major trophy last season, make a winning start to their Egyptian Premier League campaign

Zamalek v Arab Contractors
Zamalek striker Mostafa Mohamed (C) scored the second goal against Arab Contractors (Photo: the Egyptian FA's official Twitter account)

Wounded Zamalek opened their Egyptian Premier League in convincing fashion, with an own goal and a late strike from Mostafa Mohamed giving them a 2-0 win over Arab Contractors on Saturday.

The White Knights needed a response after a disappointing last season, which ended a fortnight ago, left them without a major trophy and they got one against a resolute Contractors side.

An own goal from Khaled El-Hosseini gave Zamalek a first-half lead and lone striker Mostafa Mohamed wrapped up the win in stoppage time with a delightful curling effort.

The Cairo club were disciplined throughout despite creating little chances, focusing on tightening up at the back rather than displaying an attacking flair.

They moved joint top with Aswan, Ceramica Cleopatra and Ittihad of Alexandria, who all grabbed opening wins.

Zamalek coach Jaime Pacheco surprisingly left Moroccan winger Achraf Bencharki on the bench, introducing compatriot Hamid Ahadad on the left wing after he returned from a loan spell with Casablanca-based club Raja.

Veteran winger Mahmoud Shikabala also made a rare start following his recent superb displays, which saw him score a wonderful solo goal in a bitter 2-1 defeat by Ahly in the African Champions League final last month.

Zamalek had territorial dominance in the first half but struggled to break down a compact Contractors defence as chances were at a premium.

But they still went ahead on 27 minutes when a right-wing cross was flicked by Ferjani Sassi to Mahmoud Alaa at the far post, with the central defender's effort palmed away by the keeper before rebounding off El-Hosseini and back into the net.

Contractors relatively improved in the second half and went close twice as headers from substitute Mohamed Essam and Mohamed Salem flashed just wide.

But Mostafa Mohamed, one of Zamalek's standout performers last season, ensured the win when his curling shot went past the stranded keeper at the far post two minutes into the additional time.

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