Two sublime goals lift Egypt's Zamalek to Confed Cup group stage

Hatem Maher , Saturday 19 Jan 2019

Zamalek defeat Morocco's Ittihad Tanger 3-1 in the second leg of the African Confederation Cup playoff on Saturday (Ahram)

Two sublime second-half goals from Omar El-Said and Youssef Ibrahim lifted Egypt's Zamalek to the African Confederation Cup group stage following a 3-1 home win over Morocco's Ittihad Tanger on Saturday.

After last week's playoff first-leg ended goalless on the road, it looked a straightforward task for Zamalek to go through before their enthusiastic fans at Alexandria's Borg El-Arab Stadium but Tanger made life hard for them. 

The Cairo giants looked on course for a comfortable win when winger Ibrahim Hassan put them ahead on the stroke of halftime but a fierce drive from Nouaman Aarab early in the second half put Tanger in the driving seat on the aggregate score. 

However, a brilliant acrobatic effort from lone striker El-Said and a solo goal from deep-lying forward Ibrahim ensured Zamalek's progress to the group stage as they chase their first ever Confederation Cup title.

The draw for the competition's group stage will take place on Monday.

Dangerous breakaways 

Zamalek mounted pressure from the outset but Tanger were dangerous on the break.

The hosts' only real chance in the first half fell to lively winger Mahmoud Kahraba, who skied the ball high over when played clean through after 15 minutes.

At the other end, Zamalek keeper Mahmoud Gennesh smothered a shot from Mehdi Naghmi from inside the area.

Despite struggling to carve out openings, Zamalek managed to go ahead just before the halftime whistle after a superb individual effort from Kahraba.

He ran half of the length of the pitch and skipped past two challengers in the process before whipping in a cross to the far post where Hassan controlled the ball, turned and beat the keeper at his near post with a snap low shot.

Kahraba was at fault for Tanger's equaliser though, Abdelkabir El Ouadi pouncing on his wayward clearance to lay off the ball for Aarab who blasted an unstoppable shot with the outside of his right foot that left Gennesh with no chance.

With Tanger going ahead on the away-goal rule, Zamalek faced the risk of another early elimination from Africa's secondary club competition for the second straight season.

However, as they did so often this season, Zamalek kept their composure to make sure there won't be any upsets on a chilly night in Alexandria.

El-Said restored their lead in the 55th minute with a goal of the season contender, flinging himself into the air to send a bicycle kick past the keeper after another teasing cross from Kahraba.

Ibrahim made the win safe five minutes from time, collecting a back-heel pass from Tunisian midfielder Ferjani Sassi, beating three challengers while making a jinking run towards the area before chipping the ball over the keeper from a tight angle.

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