Zamalek stroll to easy win to keep Egyptian league hopes alive

Hatem Maher , Friday 24 Feb 2017

Zamalek celebrate the opening goal in their 2-0 victory over El-Nasr Taadeen (Ahram)

Zamalek strolled to an easy 2-0 victory over lowly El-Nasr Taadeen on Friday to keep alive their hopes of catching leaders and arch rivals Ahly at the top of the Egyptian Premier League.

Winger Mostafa Fathi gave Zamalek a deserved lead in the first half and substitute Hossam Paolo, nicknamed Paolo, scored in stoppage time to ensure the win after the team had missed a slew of goal-scoring chances.

Paolo, 33, netted his second league goal in as many appearances following his January arrival from Alexandria-based club Smouha, having caught the eyes of Zamalek after finishing as the Egyptian league top scorer in the last two seasons.

The White Knights are third in the table with 40 points, one behind second-placed Maqassa and 12 adrift of Ahly although they still have two games in hands on the league leaders.

The win will ease pressure on coach Mohamed Helmi, whose job has been under scrutiny since Zamalek slumped to a surprise 2-1 defeat by El-Entag El-Harby earlier this month before claiming two victories over El-Geish and Taadeen.

Zamalek created chances almost at will, with Taadeen's surprising bold approach leaving them exposed at the back.

Nigerian forward Stanley Ohawuchi failed to find an empty net after a cross eluded the keeper after 11 minutes and compatriot Maarouf Yussuf had a low shot collected by the guardian when well-positioned to score as an opener looked inevitable in the first half.

A defensive lapse gifted lone striker Bassem Morsi a chance midway through the first period but he was unlucky to see his chipped effort strike the bar.

The breakthrough came on 32 minutes when lively winger Fathi capitalised on the defence's failure to clear a cross to hold off his challenger and lift the ball over  the advancing keeper and into the net from eight yards out.

Taadeen had a rare chance to equalise on the stroke of halftime when Ghanaian forward Patrick Addo beat the offside trap to break clear but his angled shot hit the side netting.

It was a one-way traffic in the second half as Zamalek continued to press forward, scoring a second goal and applying a killer blow to their opponents.

A curling shot from Fathi narrowly missed the target and Salama had a legitimate wrongfully ruled out for offside before making amends with a trademark poacher's effort just before the end.

Substitute Mohamed Ibrahim jinked into the area after a breakaway and, despite being surrounded by several defenders, slipped the ball to the unmarked frontman whose first-timer went in off the post.

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