Zamalek stutter held for another Champions League draw – Egyptian football


Zamalek drew scoreless in Angola (Photo: Zamalek Twitter account)

Zamalek had to come back from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw at home to fellow Angolan side Petro Atletico in their Group D opener last week and they were once again guilty of wasting a few easy chances against Esperanca.

Esperanca also had their fair share of opportunities, and Zamalek will settle for a draw after goalkeeper Mohamed Abou-Gabal made some fine saves, including denying substitute Lionel Yombi in a one-on-one in the second period.

Zamalek extended their winless streak to three matches in all competitions, having also fallen to a shock 2-0 loss to Smouha in the Egyptian Premier League in midweek.

The Cairo giants are third in their Champions League group with two points, one behind Moroccan Wydad and two behind leaders Petro Atletico.

The five-time African champions’ task of avoiding group stage elimination for the second consecutive season will not be easy as they face Wydad in a crucial double-header, starting with an away game next Saturday.

slow tempo

There was nothing to separate the two teams in a slow-paced first half, which was littered with a few bad passes in the final third.

The only highlight was a chance that went to Tunisian Zamalek striker Seifeddine Jaziri on the stroke of half-time as he saw his shot curled from inside the box cleared by a defender.

The second half was more exciting, with Zamalek applying early pressure that could have resulted in a game opener.

Esperanca keeper Leonardo Mutunda tipped a powerful shot from Emam Ashour before lunging at the feet of Achraf Bencharki to block his effort at the far post, with defender Mohamed Abdel-Ghani blasting the rebound overhead.

At the other end, Bonginkosi Dlamini also squandered a good chance for the hosts when he got the better of Mahmoud El-Wensh on the right to cut inside unopposed, only to wrap up his effort.

The tit-for-tat continued as Abou-Gabal fended off a few shots and Mutunda saved efforts from Mahmoud Shikabala and Ahmed Fattouh.

As the match drifted to a goalless draw, both teams could have won in the death.

In the 83rd minute, a slip from El-Wensh allowed Yombi to escape, but Abou-Gabal, one of the stars of Egypt’s march to the Africa Cup of Nations final at the beginning of the month, saved Zamalek from a fine save.

Zamalek was denied by the woodwork with virtually the final kick of the game when a setback by Moroccan winger Mohamed Ounajem found striker Omar El-Said, whose side-footed effort returned to the post.

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