41-year-old keeper El-Hadary stars to help Ismaily hold Ahly

Omar Zaazou , Wednesday 22 Oct 2014

Ismaily hold Ahly to a goalless draw, thanks in part to an excellent display from Essam El-Hadary

Essam El-Hadary
Former Egypt keeper Essam El-Hadary (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Veteran keeper Essam El-Hadary produced a vintage performance to help Ismaily claim a goalless draw at reigning champions Ahly in the Egyptian league on Wednesday.

A fast-paced and eventful clash saw neither side manage a single goal, as both teams had their keepers to thank for a string of crucial saves to keep clean sheets at Gouna Stadium.

The dying minutes of the game saw Ismaily defender Shawky El-Saied sent off for a second bookable offense following a scuffle with Ahly striker Amr Gamal.

Ahly climbed  to 12th spot with four points but they still have two games in hand, whereas Ismaily – who were deducted six points by FIFA for failing to pay off the wages of former striker John Owoeri – are now 16th with three.

Congested half    

The first half was off to a quick start, with both teams attempting to dominate the center of the park early on by fielding numbers in the midfield area.

Ismaily's Hosny Abd-Rabou,  Mahmoud Abdel-Aziz,  Amr El-Sulaya and debutant Alexandro Lopez were all against Hossam Ghaly,  Hossam Ashour and wingers Walid Soliman and Mahmoud Hassan 'Trezeguet' who used to drift inside in an interesting midfield battle.

But the congested game yielded the first real chance after only 15 minutes, when Ahly striker Ahmed Abdel-Zaher was denied by ex-Egypt first-choice goalie El-Hadary following a great solo run towards the box.

Four minutes later, Abdel-Zaher's strike partner Gamal saw an overhead kick tipped over by El-Hadary, an Ahly star for over a decade before departing the club in an acrimonious manner to join Swiss side Sion in 2008, after managing to control the ball inside the area despite being under pressure from his marker El-Saied.

Ismaily frontman Kelechi Osunwa then had a good chance in the 38th minute when his close-range effort after a fine one-two with a teammate was thwarted by keeper Sherif Ekramy.

They spurned another chance two minutes before halftime when defender El-Saied headed narrowly following a free-kick from Ahmed Samir Farag.

El-Hadary heroics, Saied dismissed

Abdel-Zaher was involved in two incidents early in the second half when he saw a strike from outside the box flow wide before his header missed the target.

But 10 minutes into the second half, referee Gehad Geresha sparked controversy when he ruled out a Trezeguet goal after the ball had been allegedly handled by Gamal in the build-up.

An unmarked Trezeguet then saw a close-range header saved by El-Hadary following a cross from right-back Sherif Hazem.

But the glaring miss of the game belonged to Gamal, when a superb run by Soliman down the right hand side of the area saw the latter send in a low cross which Gamal blasted wide with the goal at his mercy.

In-form Abdel-Zaher again posed threat when he pounced on a cleared ball inside the area before missing the target by inches.

Moussa Yedan, who came on instead of left-back Sabry Rahil, surged down the left before playing in a low cross that was met by Abdel-Zaher whose strike was stunningly saved by El-Hadary.

With Ahly piling on pressure in an attempt to snatch a late win, Ismaily's El-Saied was sent off as both teams shared honors.

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