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Ahly maintain Egyptian league dominance over rivals Zamalek with 2-0 win

Hatem Maher , Thursday 29 Dec 2016
Ahly v Zamalek
Ahly players celebrate after scoring a goal during their Egyptian Premier League football match against Zamalek at the Petrosport Stadium in Cairo on December 29, 2016 (AFP)

Ahly maintained a nine-year unbeaten run in the Egyptian Premier League against arch rivals Zamalek after claiming a thoroughly deserved 2-0 Cairo derby win at Petrosport Stadium on Thursday.

Moemen Zakareya once again haunted his ex club to put Ahly in front midway through the first half before Nigerian forward Junior Ajayi made an immediate impact after coming on as a substitute to head home a second in stoppage time and spark wild celebrations among the hundreds of fans who were allowed to attend the match.

Ahly, who lost to Zamalek in two consecutive Egypt Cup finals, kept a stranglehold on the derby in the premier domestic competition, having been last beaten in 2007 when they had already wrapped up the title.

The victory extends the lead of leaders Ahly over perennial rivals Zamalek, who are third, to 11 points but the latter still have two matches in hand.

Zamalek tasted their first defeat of the season while Ahly remained unbeaten in 17 matches. 

Both sides will not play any games until they meet again in the Egypt Super Cup in February as the league will stop for more than a month due to Egypt's participation in the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon.

Clinical Zakareya

Zamalek's attacking plans were disrupted after Nigerian forward Stanley Ohawuchi pulled out during the warm-up after seemingly aggravating an ankle injury.

His pace was crucial to Zamalek's strategy and, in his absence, the team struggled to feed lone striker Bassem Morsi who appeared largely isolated during a first-half dominated by an Ahly side who put into effect their usual flowing moves involving some intricate passes.

However, the first 20 minutes were timid, with both sides unable to mount any threats and too many mis-placed passes making life even more difficult for them.

But Ahly took advantage of a defensive lapse to go ahead two minutes later, thanks to another clinical finish from Zakareya who took his tally to four goals against his former club since leaving them in January 2015.

Playmaker Abdallah El-Said fed Hussein El-Sayed down the flank and the diminutive left-back ran to the byline and crossed low for the unmarked Zakareya to stab home with a deft first touch.

The move that led to the opener was a reminder of Zamalek's struggles without influential right-back Osama Ibrahim, who has been one of their key players lately but missed the derby after incurring three yellow cards.

Zamalek gradually improved as the match wore on but were still unable to slice open an Ahly defence which appeared solid despite the absence of regular duo Ahmed Hegazy and Rami Rabia who are both injured.

Ahly missed a chance to kill off the match early in the second half after squandering a couple of goal-scoring opportunities, with striker Marwan Mohsen missing a sitter after heading wide with the goal at his mercy and defensive midfielder Ahmed Fathi forcing a superb one-handed save from Zamalek goalkeeper Ahmed El-Shennawi.

Zamalek had some half-chances as Ahly sat back to soak up pressure but that was not enough, with the Red Devils striking again just before the end.

Ajayi had only been on the pitch for less than three minutes when he rose unmarked to head home a left-wing cross from Fathi.

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