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Zamalek end Ismaili jinx to move three clear
Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 11 - 11 - 2010

CAIRO - An own goal by Moatasem Salem gave Zamalek their first victory over Ismaili since 2006 after a thrilling 3-2 win in Wednesday's Egyptian Premier League clash at Cairo Stadium.
Playmaker Abdullah Saied gave Ismaili the lead after 20 minutes but in-form winger Shikabala restored parity 11 minutes later after a brilliant individual effort.
Towering striker Ahmed Gaafar added the second for Zamalek just before the break, with television replays showing that the goal should have been disallowed for offside.
Substitute Ahmed Ali equalised eight minutes after the restart, few moments after coming on instead of Nigerian striker Ndubuisi Godwin.
Central defender Salem, who was the subject of interest from Zamalek and their arch-rivals Ahli in the summer, turned a low cross by Shikabala into his own net to give the White Knights a precious win and send their fans into raptures.
A rare first-half foray by the visitors helped them score against the run of play to stun the enthusiastic home crowd in the 20th minute.
Godwin held off two defenders and laid off the ball for Saied to fire a powerful right-footed shot that went past Zamalek keeper Abdul-Wahed Al-Sayed.
Al-Sayed is believed to have shaken off a groin injury in time to take part in the game but he still appeared to be affected by the complaint, struggling to make his trademark reflex diving saves.
Godwin almost doubled Ismaili's advantage in the 27th minute but he failed make contact with a low cross from the right.
Zamalek needed a lovely piece of individual skill from Shikabala to level the score on 31 minutes.
The 24-year-old wizard bamboozled his marker Abdullah Shahat with a neat turn and sent in a fierce left-foot drive which beat keeper Mohamed Sobhi at the far post.
Gaafar, who was given a new lease of life following the injury of Amr Zaki, put Zamalek ahead on the stroke of halftime in controversial fashion, sparking protests from Ismaili players and Dutchman Wotte.
Midfielder Ibrahim Salah gathered the ball after a defensive clearance and his mis-hit shot found defender Mahmoud Fathallah, who was played onside by Ismaili's Shahat.
Fathallah chested the ball into the path of Gaafar, who was in an offside position, to dink the ball over Sobhi and into the net.
Ismaili's combative striker Ali managed to draw Ismaili level on 53 minutes with his first touch, scoring on the rebound after guardian Al-Sayed parried an innocuous free kick into his path.
Zamalek piled on pressure and were lucky to emerge winners when Salem, who produced some below-par displays this season, shook his head in disbelief for netting an own goal one minute past the hour mark.
A late onslaught by Ismaili saw Saied rattle the post with a free kick in the dying minutes.
Scenes of jubilation erupted just after the final whistle, with a win over one of the league's heavyweights reinforcing Zamalek's belief that they can win the title for the first time since 2004.
Fans chanted the name of coach Hossam Hassan, asking him to end an Ahli dominance that saw the Red Devils win six consecutive league titles between 2005 and 2010.
Zamalek remained on top with 21 points, three above Ahli who still have two games in hand.
Both sides are due to clash in the Cairo derby later this month but the match is likely to be postponed upon the request of the interior ministry as it will coincide with Egyptian parliamentary elections.
Ismaili, who virtually lost hopes of competing for a title they last won in 2002, slipped to ninth spot in the table on 13 points. The defeat is likely to increase pressure on beleaguered coach Mark Wotte, whose job remains under scrutiny after a poor run.
Ismaili's packed midfield and defense thwarted Zamalek's early attempts to break the deadlock, keeping the likes of Gaafar, Shikabala, Alaa Ali and Wagih Abdul-Azim at bay.


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