Zamalek secure Champions League spot after Ismaily win

Karim Farouk , Monday 26 Oct 2020

Zamalek eased to a 3-1 win against Ismaily to secure the second place behind champions Ahly, which guarantees them a spot in the next edition of the African Champions League

Zamalek Mostafa Mohamed
Zamalek striker Mostafa Mohamed celebrates after scoring his team's first goal. Photo: EFA official twitter account

Zamalek secured a place in the Champions League after beating Ismaily 3-1 on Monday in their final Premier League game of the season to finish the season at the second place behind Champions Ahly.

The first two half goals from Mostafa Mohamed and Congolese striker Kabongo Kasongo and a well-placed header from Moroccan talisman Achraf Bencharki put them at 68 points, four ahead of third-placed Pyramids, who have yet to play their final game of the season.

The Whites have been deducted three points as a penalty for a no-show against Ahly last February.

Ismaily midfielder Wagih Abdel-Hakim scored a late goal for Ismaily, but that is no consolation for their sorrowful season, which saw the once-Champions end the season in 11th place on the table with 41 points.

Coach Jaime Pacheco fielded a weakened side against the Dervishes as he kept on the bench some key players like Bencharki and Ahmed "Zizo" El-Sayed, in addition to the injured Mahmoud Alaa and Hazem Emam, as he prepares for a crucial return leg against Raja Casablanca on Sunday in the African Champions League semi-finals.

Zamalek came out firing and almost went ahead inside the first minute when Mohamed Ounajem went clear in the right side of the area, but the Ismaily keeper deflected his shot by the tips of his fingers into the corner.

Mohamed put Zamalek ahead in the 12th minute when he latched onto a through ball from Tarek Hamed to confidently slide it past the keeper. The goal was initially ruled offside, but the decision was overturned after VAR review.

After a quick exchange of passes from Mahmoud "Shikabala" Abdel-Razek and Ounajem, the ball ended up with Kasongo, who scored in an empty net in the 22nd minute of the game.

However, Zamalek suffered some setbacks in this half as left-back Abdallah Gomaa and central defender Mahmoud "El-Wensh" Hamdi was injured and had to leave the game at the break.

Portuguese coach Pacheco gave Zizo and Bencharki some playing time to exploit open spaces in Ismaily's defence.

In the 72nd minute, Emam Ashour ghosted into the right side of the area and found Bencharki unmarked at the far post and glanced the ball past the keeper.

Abdel-Hakim pulled one back for the visitors in the 84th minute from point blank when the ball fell from the hands of Zamalek keeper Mohamed Abou Gabal after colliding with his own defender Mohamed Abdel-Salam. 

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