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Monday, 02 August 2021

Bencharki shines again as Egypt's Zamalek claim Champions League win

Hatem Maher , Saturday 7 Dec 2019
Zamalek's Bencharki celebrates scoring their second goal (Photo: Reuters)

Achraf Bencharki scored his second double in three days as Zamalek passed their first real test under new coach Patrice Carteron, securing a 2-0 home win over Angola's Primero de Agosto in the African Champions League on Saturday.

The Moroccan forward, who was deployed on the wing before switching to a deeper role in the second half, netted either side of the interval, including a blistering second-half volley that drew gasps of admiration from the home fans.

His midweek double also propelled Zamalek to a 3-1 victory over third-division side Sharqeya in the Egypt Cup round of 32, which gave Frenchman Carteron a winning start.

Primero de Agosto, who could not muster any threats throughout, played the last 20 minutes with ten men after Akinfenwa Ibukun was dismissed for a second bookable offence.

Carteron, who took over following the sacking of Serbian coach Micho, is starting to steady the ship after a string of disappointing results, which included an embarrassing 3-0 defeat at DR Congo's TP Mazembe in Zamalek's opening group-stage game of the Champions League.

The win over Primero de Agosto lifted Zamalek to second with three points, three behind Mazembe who maintained their perfect start with a 2-1 away victory over Zambia's Zesco United earlier on Sunday.

Zesco and Primero de Agosto have one point apiece in Group A.

High pressure

Primero de Agosto caught Zamalek by surprise in the early stages by pressuring them high up the pitch, but the bold approach still exposed them to swift attacks from the hosts.

The closest Primero de Agosto came to scoring was a tame shot from Ary Papel that was easily saved by keeper Mohamed Awad after he muscled his way into the area.

Zamalek were largely in control, although clear-cut chances were hard to come by.

They opened the scoring from their first real attempt in the 16th minute, deep-lying forward Youssef Ibrahim chipping the ball over the defence and into the path of Bencharki at the far post to fire home an angled drive on the half-volley.

With Primero de Agosto offering little upfront despite pouring forward en masse at times, Zamalek totally dominated proceedings after the break, although their final touches often let them down.

Their slick football was still attractive and they managed to put the game to bed eight minutes past the hour mark.

Lone striker Mostafa Mohamed, one of the stars of Egypt's triumphant campaign at the U23 Africa Cup of Nations on home soil, flicked a long ball to Bencharki to rifle an unstoppable right-foot volley into the top corner from the edge of the area.

Ibukun's sending-off a few minutes later further dampened the spirits of Primero de Agosto as Zamalek were untroubled, cruising to a convincing win.

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