Zamalek settle for goalless draw in Ismailia
Ismaily and Zamalek preserved their unbeaten league records after a tight, goalless affair in Ismailia, which means the Whites missed the chance to go top of the league.
The White Knights now sit a point away from leaders ENPPI, after 9 games played. Ismaily, meanwhile are currently in 13th place, behind Al-Ragaa, who beat Assiouty Sport 3-0 earlier today.
Zamalek’s XI: Mohamed Abou-Gabal – Omar Gaber – Ahmed Dweidar – Ali Gabr – Ahmed Samir – Mohamed Shaaban (Ayman Hefny) – Tarek Hamed – Ahmed Tawfik (Ahmed Ali) – Momen Zakaria – Basem Morsi – Khaled Kamar (Moruf Yusuf.)
Ismaily’s XI: Essam El-Hadary – Mahmoud Hamad – Ahmed El-Esh – Mahmoud Metwaly – Bahaa Magdy – Amr El-Sulaya – Hosni Abd-Rabo (Mohamed Magdy) – Mahmoud Abdel-Aziz – Ibrahim Hassan (Shawky El-Said) – Lopez (Mohamed Zika) – Antwi.
Zamalek’s line-up saw stability and continuity with the same starting eleven from their match against Al Masry with the exception of Koffi, who was banned for 3 games after a straight red. Ricardo fielded an unchanged line-up from their previous match against Al-Ragaa.
The teams started with caution in the first half as it was clear that both managers were trying to control the midfield.
The first real chance on goal for Zamalek was by Momen Zakaria. The midfielder played a beautiful one-two pass with Basem Morsi which saw him positioned in a perfect position for a shot, but his attempted effort was a bit higher than the goal post and curved out.
Basem Morsi was second in line to get a chance on goal. Mohamed Shaaban crossed the ball into the box and Ismaily defender Ahmed El-Esh, failed to clear it as it hit his back; the ball landed in front of Morsi who got a shot away, but Essam El-Hadary was there to deny Zamalek from their first goal.
In the 36th minute, a long ball from the Zamalek defence landed on Morsi’s head, who tried chipping it above El-Hadary from the 18-yard box. El-Hadary was once again the saviour as he peddled back to punch it out for a corner.
Ismaily started the second half calmly as they were clearly instructed by their coach, but Pacheco had a different approach to the half. Zamalek’s players raised the tempo of the game with fast but short direct passes through their midfield.
Zamalek’s first attempt in the second half came in the 49th minute through a very crucial error from the Ismaily defence. A lousy pass from Khaled Kamar intended to Momen Zakaria wasn’t cleared by Mahmoud Metwally, and Zakaria controlled on the edge of the penalty area. The player made the decision to take a shot on goal from a tight angle and even though it was well-struck, El-Hadary got a touch on the ball, tipping it onto the far post before the rebound fell to Ismaily’s defence, who cleared it out for a corner.
As Zamalek seemed to control the midfield, Mohamed Shaaban played a long ball into the penalty box. Metwally once again failed to mark Basem Morsi, who rose unchallenged, only to head the ball inches past El-Hadary’s left post.
In an attempt to revive his team’s attacking play, Ricardo took off Brazilian attacker Lopez and put in attacking midfielder Mohamed Zika in the 59th minute of the game.
The substitution seemed to work for Ismaily, as they had more balls played to their lone attacker, the Egyptian Premier League’s current top scorer John Antwi. However, Ahmed Dweidar was always present to deny Ghanaian Antwi any danger on the Zamalek goal.
The substitutes came quickly after that as Pacheco called upon Ayman Hefny to replace Mohamed Shaaban in the 70th minute as Ricardo brought in Ibrahim Hassan for Shawky El-Said.
Zakaria had once again had a chance to hand his side the lead when he received the ball in the penalty box and dribbled two defenders, but his shot sailed wide when he only had El-Hadary to beat.
As Pacheco looked for a solution from the bench, he decided to bring on Moruf Yusuf for Khaled Kamar.
Both teams seemed to struggle to reach their opponents goal as they had kept themselves in a battle of control in the midfield.
As a last reserve, Ricardo looked on Mohamed Magdy to replace out-of-form Hosni Abd-Rabo in the 80th minute, as Pacheco gave ex-Ismaily attacker Ahmed Ali the chance to play upfront with Basem Morsi, pulling out midfielder Ahmed Tawfik.
A lovely bit play in the dying minutes of the game saw Zakaria cross the ball into the box towards Morsi, but the latter headed it inches wide of the near post as the match ended goalless.
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