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Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Ahly's World Cup dream dashed by Lewandowski's double as Bayern reach final

Ahly will face Brazilian giants Palmeiras on Thursday in the 3rd place match

Karim Farouk , Monday 8 Feb 2021
Lewandowski
Bayern's Robert Lewandowski, right, runs with the ball past Al Ahly's Ayman Ashraf during the Club World Cup semifinal soccer match between FC Bayern Munich and Al Ahly at Al Rayyan stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. AP
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There was no miracle tonight as the expected happened when European and German Champions Bayern Munich defeated Egypt and African Champions Ahly 2-0 to reach the Club World Cup final on Monday.

Poland striker and the 2020 FIFA Best player Robert Lewandowski scored a double on the 17th and 86th minutes, setting up a final showdown against Mexican giants Tigres on Thursday.

Ahly missed the chance to equal the African best performance of TP Mazembe of DR Congo and Raja of Morocco, who reached the final in 2010 and 2013. However, they will have the chance to match their best performance when they claimed the bronze in 2006, as they face Brazilian giants and CONMEBOL Champions Palmeiras on Thursday.

Ahly coach Pitsmo Mosimane kept his usual 4-2-3-1, against all odds predicting a more defensive approach, with one major change to the team that faced Duhail in the quarter finals, as Mahmoud "Kahraba" Abdel-Moneim replaced Congolese striker Walter Bwalya in the striker's role.

The Bavarian giants started the game, as expected, with a high pressing and a possession game.

With Ahly sitting back in order to close down spaces against a high-flying German side, defender Badr Benoun had the impossible task of marking Bayern's deadliest weapon, Lewandowski.

The Bayern Big number 9 was found unmarked in the box by Serge Gnabry following a poor clearance by Ahly's defence to tap in the opener in the 18th minute.

Ahly were dealt a huge blow when experienced left back Ali Maaloul was forced to quit the game after sustaining a hamstring injury.

Bayern had a couple of chances from Lewandowski, Marc Roca and Thomas Muller to extend their lead, but keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi made some impressive saves to keep his team in the game.

A better second-half display

Apparently, the players were rejuvenated in the dressing room, as the Egyptians improved after the interval. Ahly, who were totally restricted at the back in the first half, showed competitive courage and moved up the pitch to ease Bayern's pressure.

Ahly looked more solid at the back, but their attackers struggled to carve spaces in Bayern's defence. Hussein El-Shahat, Kahraba and Mohamed "Afsha" Magdi made some attempts, but they could barely be considered a threat for a keeper of the calibre of Manuel Neuer.

Coach Pitso Mosimane tried to boost his front line by bringing in Bwalya and winger Salah Mohsen, but they failed to make the intended impact as they had to drag back more to block the flanks against second half substituted Leroy Sane and Jamal Musiala.

The killer moment was in the 86th minute when Sane crossed at the far post to Lewandowski, who evaded his markers to head in the second and secure Bayern’s ticket to the final.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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