Five talking points from this week's Egyptian League: Business as usual for Ahly, another hat-trick for Maqassa midfielder

Ahram Online , Saturday 18 Nov 2017

Highlights from the ninth matchday of the Egyptian Premier League

Ahly's Walid Azaro scored twice to give his side a 2-1 victory over El-Entag El-Harby in the Egyptian Premier League (Ahram)

Second hat-trick for Maqassa’s Shahat

Maqassa’s versatile midfielder Hussein El-Shahat netted his second hat-trick of the season as his side played out a 3-3 draw with Wadi Degla in the most entertaining game of the ninth round.

El-Shahat, who now plays as a playmaker having also been used as a right-back and central midfielder last season, converted two spot kicks and scored a precious stoppage-time equalizer to help the struggling Maqassa avoid what looked a certain defeat.

His third goal underlined his goal-scoring instincts, beating the keeper at his near post with a superb shot from inside the area to secure a share of spoils after Maqassa had fallen behind twice.

He took his tally to seven goals in nine matches to sit on top of the scorers’ chart, on level with El-Entag El-Harby striker Omar El-Said.

El-Shahat’s previous hat-trick came in another 3-3 draw when Maqassa came from three goals down to stage a remarkable comeback against Tanta last month.

Red-hot Calderon fires Ismaily past Tanta

In-form Colombian striker Diego Calderon maintained his impressive goal-scoring run to lead leaders Ismaily to their sixth win in eight matches.

He scored what proved to be the winner as Ismaily, who are still unbeaten, claimed a narrow 1-0 win over a resilient Tanta side.

Calderon was on target on 29 minutes, controlling a long ball between two challengers before hitting a left-foot volley into the corner of the net.

Ismaily’s stand-out performer has five goals and three assists to his name as the team chase their first league crown since winning the last of their three titles in 2002.

They are on top of the table with 20 points, four clear of second-placed Masry.

Champions Ahly back in action

It was business as usual for holders Ahly, who got back to action following a demoralizing 2-1 aggregate defeat by Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca in the African Champions League final.

They claimed their third win in four matches, although they were made to work hard for a 2-1 win over El-Entag El-Harby, who could have snatched a draw in the latter stages had they did not waste some goal-scoring chances.

Several Ahly players were missing through injury, including influential left-back Ali Maaloul and regular defender Rami Rabia, but Moroccan striker Walid Azaro scored twice to ensure the Red Devils were not affected.

Azaro, who is gradually improving after a poor start to his stint with Ahly, scored either side of a penalty from El-Entag’s Omar El-Said as the Cairo giants moved to the 11th spot on 10 points. They still have five matches in hand. 

Top scorer

El-Entag El-Harby striker Omar El-Said kept up his superb goal-scoring run when he converted a penalty in the 2-1 defeat by Ahly, taking his tally to seven goals, on level with Maqassa's Hussein El-Shahat on top of the scorers' chart. 

He was also a constant menace to Ahly's defence throughout the match, keeping the defenders on their toes with his tireless runs.

El-Said's form has led to calls for Egypt coach Hector Cuper to give him a chance as the national team prepare to make only their third World Cup appearance at next year's Russia finals.

Egypt are struggling to find a reliable striker, with the likes of Portugal-based frontman Ahmed Kouka and Bidvest Wits' Amr Gamal unable to impress.   

Zamalek recovery

Zamalek, the 2015 champions and Ahly's perennial rivals, continued their recovery from a poor run with a 2-1 home win over second-bottom side Nasr.

The White Knights claimed their third straight victory in an easy manner and could have put the game to bed on numerous occasions, only to waste a hatful of clear-cut chances. There were some nervy moments at the end when Nasr's Haggag Oweis pulled one back in stoppage time but Zamalek held on for another win.

Zamalek's win came via a goal from central defender Mahmoud Alaa and a penalty from defensive midfielder Mohamed Ashraf either side of the interval.

There were some positives for the team, whose set-pieces now look dangerous under Montenegrin coach Nebojsa Jovovic. Alaa scored when a corner was flicked into his path at the far post to stab home for his third goal of the season.

Nebojsa also seems to have settled on his ideal starting line-up that features talented duo Ahmed Madbouli and Abdallah Gomaa on the wings behind lone striker Kabongo Kasongo. The line-up also features a three-man midfield that usually stifles any opposing attacks.  

Zamalek moved third with 18 points, one behind second-placed Masry and two adrift of leaders Ismaily. 

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