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Two stunning strikes give Zamalek precious win at Orlando Pirates

Zamalek seal a superb 2-1 win away at Orlando Pirates following a delightful second-half performance

Omar Zaazou, Saturday 11 Jul 2015
Zamalek midfielder Maarouf Youssef who put in a stunning performance against Orlando on Saturday seen here in a recent Egyptian league game (Photo: Ahram)
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Views: 1637

Two stunning goals from Maarouf Youssef and Mostafa Fathi gave Zamalek a priceless 2-1 win at South Africa's Orlando Pirates in the CAF Confederation Cup Saturday.

After falling behind in the second half to Lehlohonolo Majoro's goal, Zamalek were quick to reply through the outstanding Maarouf before Fathi snatched the valuable winner with just six minutes remaining.

It was a fantastic performance from the Cairo giants, especially during the second half, that helped them avenge a previous 4-1 defeat to Orlando two years ago in the Champions League. 

Zamalek now top Group B with six points following their second win in a row, while Orlando lie second on three, after Tunisian side Sfaxien played out a 1-1 home draw with DR Congo's Leopards.

Orlando maintain upper hand

In a first half that was dominated by the hosts, Zamalek signaled a threat in the first minute through midfield wizard Ayman Hefni whose ambitious strike missed the target.

Two minutes later, the Buccaneers could have taken an early lead when midfielder Thabo Rakhale hit the near post following a cross from the right.

From then onward, Orlando enjoyed complete possession while limiting Zamalek to their own half as the visitors struggled to get past their opponents' intense pressing.

The South Africans threatened again through left-back Thabo Matlaba, but his shot went across the face of goal with no one following in.

With just seconds remaining from half time, Zamalek, who clearly lacked the marauding runs of right-back Hazem Emam, needed a last-ditch intervention from Hamada Tolba to deny an on-goal Sifiso Myeni.

Zamalek turn the tables

After the break, Zamalek redeemed themselves with striker Bassem Morsi, who remained a peripheral figure throughout the first period, squandered the opener after latching on a Hefni through-ball before missing the target by inches.

The homeside replied with a header from Issa Sarr that went narrowly high of the bar.

But Jesualdo Ferreira's men looked determined to continue threatening their opponents after Morsi's close chance, with substitute Fathi this time cutting inside before unleashing a powerful strike that was parried by the keeper at full stretch on 64 minutes.

Shortly afterwards, Morsi attempted an acrobatic bicycle kick following Ahmed Tawfik's pinpoint cross from the right as Zamalek looked close to scoring.

The Cairo side, however, were punished for their wasted chances in the 68th minute, when Orlando's substitute Majoro was allowed to run easily though midfield and cut his way between the Zamalek centre backs to beat keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi at the near post.

But it was not long till the Egyptians pegged their opponents back. This time a terrific assist from Morsi set up the onrushing Maarouf down the lefthand side of the area, with the Nigerian hitting a magnificent strike to the roof of the net.   

The game still had to see another substitute score, and this time Fathi made no mistake with a wonderful curler from inside the area to give his side the winner on 84 minutes.

But Zamalek had to thank keeper El-Shennawi for retaining their lead, with the Egypt goalie coming to his side's rescue twice in the dying minutes to deny Orlando what could have been two certain goals, to come up with a vital win at Nelspruit.  

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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