Smouha players celebrating scoring against Zamalek (Photo: Ahram)
A stuttering Zamalek side succumbed to their first loss of the season following a 3-0 Egyptian league defeat by a clever Smouha side at Cairo’s Petrosport Stadium on Friday.
Looking to get back on track following two league draws with Enppi and Tanta, Zamalek were not helped by goals from Mohamed Hamdi Zaki, Mahmoud Abdel-Aziz and Patrick Malo on 45, 65 and 95 minutes respectively.
The game has seen Zamalek playmaker Ayman Hefni make his long-awaited comeback from injury after coming on a second-half substitute, but the midfield wizard hardly delivered the goods.
Smouha, managed by Czech boss Frantisec Straka, are now third of the table with 12 points, while Zamalek have slipped to sixth on nine following their first defeat of the season.
Zamalek were the first side to pose threat on goal, and shortly after the kick off, Salah Ashour – deployed as a no.10 - saw a strike hit the woodwork.
Smouha, on the other side, looked dangerous on the break – with keeper Ahmed El-Shennawi going timely out of goal to get the ball in front of forward Zaki in the 17th minute.
Striker Kabongo Kasongo, who was deployed on the left, wasted a clear-cut chance from inside the area following a pin-point cross from right-back Hazem Emam eight minutes later in what was Zamalek’s most dangerous chance so far.
But it was a later miss that eventually proved crucial, with a squandered ball on the rebound from center-forward Bassem Morsi following Moayad Ajan’s stoppage-time free kick being immediately followed by Smouha’s opener.
A long goal-kick was won by Smouha striker Banou Diawara in the air as he fed ex-Ahly man Zaki - who hit a terrific half-volley past keeper El-Shennawi in front of two Zamalek defenders.
With Zamalek expected to push forward after the break in search for the equalizer, it was curiously the visitors who managed to control possession and it was ten minutes into the second half when they doubled their lead.
With the Whites’ defense dragged out of position towards the left, the in-form Zaki managed to brilliantly lay the ball off for onrushing midfielder Abdel-Aziz, who ran into the box unmarked before beating El-Shennawi at the near post.
Zamalek manager Nebojsa Jovovic was then forced to bring on defender Mahmoud Hamdi due to the injury of right back Emam as he now switched to a three-man defense.
And despite the introduction of fit-again playmaker Hefni and Razack Cisse, the changes hardly paid off – with Zamalek looking nervous and unable to retain possession.
As the Cairo giants looked still vulnerable on the break and toothless upfront, a third goal for Smouha seemed on the cards, and indeed a 94th-minute goal from substitute defender Malo completed the rout.
With two Smouha men going through on goal, defender Malo found no problem slotting past El-Shennawi, as he gave his side a precious win away from home.
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