ENPPI lose ground in league race after 5-1 loss to already-qualified Ahly

Hatem Maher, Friday 24 May 2013

ENPPI fail to maintain their three-point advantage over second-placed Smouha after suffering a 5-1 loss to Group A leaders Ahly in the Egyptian Premier League on Friday

Mohamed Barakat
Mohamed Barakat scored twice in Ahly's 5-1 drubbing of ENPPI(File Photo: Reuters)

ENPPI failed to keep their three-point advantage over nearest challengers Smouha intact after suffering a humiliating 5-1 defeat by already-qualified Ahly in Group A of the Egyptian Premier League on Friday.

Goals from Ahmed Shokry, Walid Soliman, El-Sayed Hamdy and a brace from Mohamed Barakat gave Ahly an easy victory that left Smouha breathing down the neck of ENPPI, with both sides battling it out to obtain the second qualifying ticket for the league's final phase.

ENPPI lie second with 26 points, on level with Smouha who played a game more. Alexandria-based outfit Smouha beat Ghazl El-Mahala 2-0 earlier in the day, thanks to goals from Hamada Yehia and Issiaka Eliassou.

Ahly, who had ensured their progress to the final round with four games to spare after defeating El-Hodoud earlier this month, are on top of the group with 33 points.

The top two in Groups A and B reach the decisive phase, where a mini-league with only home fixtures will be held to determine the champion. Zamalek and Ismaily had already qualified from Group B.

ENPPI famously denied Ahly what looked an imminent league triumph when they recorded a stunning 1-0 victory over their fancied opponents on the final day of the 2002-03 season, gifting the title to Ahly's Cairo rivals Zamalek.

It took Ahly exactly ten years to ensure that is a mere distant memory, having humiliated ENPPI for their biggest-ever win over the petroleum club, which rose to prominence in the early 2000s.

Attacking midfielder Ahmed Shokry opened the scoring with a fine left-foot volley after six minutes following a deflected cross from veteran left-back Sayed Moawad, who was one of Ahly's liveliest performers.

Winger Walid Soliman converted a penalty on 14 minutes to double the lead and evergreen midfielder Barakat, who hinted that he could retire at the end of the season, made it 3-0 from another spot-kick three minutes after the restart.

ENPPI striker Ahmed Raouf pulled one back in the 71st minute after rising unchallenged to head home a cross but Ahly soon regained their three-goal advantage, El-Sayed Hamdi sending a glancing header home following another pinpoint cross from Moawad.

Barakat completed the rout with two minutes remaining after superbly finishing off a swift counter attack. He flicked the ball past his challenger on the edge of the area before curling his shot past helpless goalkeeper Mohamed Abdel-Monsef, who needlessly rushed out.

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