Abdoulaye Cisse heads home with two minutes remaining as Zamalek secure passage to the African Champions League group stage in thrilling fashion following a 3-3 aggregate draw
Hatem Maher, Sunday 5 May 2013
In-form striker Abdoulaye Cisse headed home at the death to lift Egypt’s Zamalek to the African Champions League group stage on the away goal rule following a 2-2 draw at Ethiopia’s Saint George on Saturday.
The Burkinabe put the visitors in front after two minutes but St. George’s Shimelese Bekele levelled the aggregate score on the quarter hour mark.
St. George were on course to cause an upset and eliminate the five-time African Champions after Isaac Isinde gave them the lead on the stroke of halftime but Cisse came to Zamalek’s rescue with a close-range header two minutes from time.
Cisse, who is enjoying a new lease of life under Brazilian coach Jorvan Vieira, got the nod ahead of Ahmed Gaafar after putting in some efficient displays lately, including scoring another late winner over Dakhleya in the Egyptian Premier League last week.
He also netted with eight minutes remaining to help Zamalek salvage a 1-1 draw at home to St. George in the first leg two weeks ago.
The Cairo club, who are topping the league’s Group B with maximum 30 points from 10 games, are unbeaten in 16 matches so far this term.
Cisse silenced the raucous home crowd after ten minutes when he got ahead of his marker to meet an inswinging cross from left-back Sabri Rahil with a powerful header that went in off the underside of the bar.
Despite taking the lead, the visitors struggled to contain St. George’s forwards, who often enjoyed smooth rides to the penalty area and had the upper hand in most of the aerial challenges.
Zamalek were also toothless upfront, with attacking midfielders Ahmed Hassan and Mohamed Ibrahim struggling to feed the isolated Cisse.
St. George were rewarded after 14 minutes when Bekele caught Zamalek’s backline off guard to volley home from inside the area following a left-wing cross.
They could have gone ahead five minutes later but a fierce volley from an acute angle was superbly palmed away by Zamalek keeper Abdel-Wahed El-Sayed.
St. George made amends two minutes before the interval when a poor defensive clearance fell to Isinde on the edge of the area to send a half-volleypast El-Sayed.
Zamalek threw everything forward in the second half and coach Jorvan Vieira tried to beef up his attack by introducing Gaafar, pacy winger Hazem Emam and playmaker Ahmed Eid.
The substitutions paid dividends as Zamalek laid siege to St. George’s area and were unlucky not to score on 70 minutes when a low shot by Ahmed Hassan was denied by the woodwork after the keeper was caught out of position.
The lively Emam and Eid combined to set up Cisse for the decisive goal with two minutes remaining.
Eid released Emam with a deft ball down the right and he skipped past his marker to whip in a cross for Cisse to head home and stun the home crowd, who were earlier widely celebrating a possible upset.
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