Al-Ahly's Malick Evouna (3rd L) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against El Zamalek (Reuters)
Malick Evouna ran half the length of the pitch, bamboozled three defenders and placed a shot into the bottom corner as Ahly claimed the Cairo derby bragging rights by beating Zamalek 2-0 to go seven points clear at the top of the Egyptian Premier League table on Tuesday.
The 23-year-old, who was declared fit a few days before the anticipated clash, broke the deadlock in superb fashion 11 minutes after the restart and substitute Amr Gamal, who replaced him, rounded off the win on the break one minute from time.
It was Evouna's sixth league goal of the season as the Gabonese begins to justify the reported $2.5 million fee paid for his services last summer for the most expensive transfer in the history of Egyptian football.
Zamalek's overly-cautious approach kept Ahly at bay in the first half but they were powerless when Evouna stole possession just before the halfway line, charged towards the area unopposed, turned central defender Ali Gabr inside out and sent a curling shot beyond the despairing dive of keeper Ahmed El-Shennawi.
Ahly went seven points clear of Zamalek at the top after 16 games as they seek to wrestle the title back from their bitter rivals. Zamalek have not defeated Ahly in the league since 2007, although they ended a barren derby run when they prevailed 2-0 in last season's Egypt Cup final to complete a rare domestic double.
Zamalek coach Mido, under whom the team lost twice and drew once in seven matches, was immediately sacked after the match. Ahly's caretaker boss Abdel-Aziz Abdel-Shafi "Zizo", who is expected to be replaced by a foreign tactician, made it five wins out of five following the departure of Portuguese Jose Peseiro.
Soaking up pressure
Zamalek played with three central midfielders to contain Ahly's attack but, without the injured Tarek Hamed, they still found it difficult to dispose their opponents despite often outnumbering them.
Although Zamalek made a promising start, with Nigerian midfielder Maarouf Yussuf going close with a low shot from the edge of the area that went just wide, they opted to sit back and soak up pressure for the majority of a largely cautious first half.
Ahly had the better possession but they were mostly restricted to long-range shots, including a curling one from winger Moemen Zakareya that narrowly missed the target.
Lone striker Evouna was shackled by a tight Zamalek rearguard and the burly frontman was barely fed by Ahly's three attacking midfielders.
The Red Devils' best chance before the break fell to Zakareya on the stroke of halftime when a through pass found him but two Zamalek defenders made a last-ditch interception to thwart him from close range.
Evouna then made the difference after the break, giving his side a lead which he almost doubled in the 74th minute but his low shot somewhat missed the target with the goal at his mercy after a pacy counter attack orchestrated by playmaker Abdallah El-Said.
Zamalek pushed forward after falling behind but even the introduction of "super sub" Mostafa Fathi, winger Hazem Emam and veteran forward Mahmoud Shikabala did little to help them carve out openings. Their solitary chance saw Yussuf exchange passes with striker Bassem Morsi to break into the area but his shot was blocked by keeper Sherif Ekramy, who was rarely called into action.
The overlapping Gamal ensured the win in the dying minutes from a neatly-worked counter attack, with Ramadan Sobhi feeding him to fire a powerful shot high into the net at the far post.
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