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Aboutraika rescues Ahly in Cairo derby stalemate

SoccerNews in UEFA Champions League 15 Sep 2008

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Mohamed Aboutraika rescued Al-Ahly once again with the second-half equaliser in a 2-2 draw against bitter rivals Zamalek in an all-Egypt African Champions League clash.

The midfielder, whose goal Sunday brought his country a record sixth African Nations Cup title last February, latched on to a Flavio Amado pass as Zamalek defenders stood still and steered the ball wide of goalkeeper Abdulwahed al-Sayed.

Angolan Amado had put the Cairo 'Red Devils' ahead after only eight minutes with a flashing header off a free kick from compatriot Felisberto 'Gilberto' Amaral on a sweltering night at the Cairo Stadium.

But the 'White Knights' hit back and scored either side of half-time with Gamal Hamza levelling and then setting up former Nottingham Forest star Junior Agogo for the second goal.

A draw sealed first place in Group A for Ahly with 11 points from five matches while Dynamos of Zimbabwe, ASEC Mimosas of Ivory Coast or Zamalek could join them in the semi-finals of the 3.5-million-dollar competition.

Dynamos (six points) host Zamalek (five) in Harare on September 21 at the same time as ASEC (five) face five-time champions, and perennial title favourites, Ahly in Cairo.

Ahly started the latest episode in the decades-old Cairo rivalry as clear favourites having already defeated Zamalek in the African Champions League and the Egypt Super Cup this season.

And although Zamalek began brightly they soon fell behind when their defenders failed to track Amado from a free kick and he burst through unopposed to give Al-Sayed no chance.

The equaliser owed much to the persistence of defender Osama Hassan, who stormed in from the wing and although goalkeeper Amir Abdulhamid parried his shot, he regained possession and passed to Hamza who made no mistake.

Abdulhamid had to pick the ball out of the net again six minutes into the second half after getting a hand to a close-range Agogo shot but failing to prevent the ball landing in the far corner of the net.

Ahly coach Manuel Jose from Portugal responded as he always does in a crisis by marching angrily to the touchline and screaming instructions to his lethergic stars, who soon raised the tempo as they sought an equaliser.

After Aboutraika restored equality the match petered out as Zamalek, who share with Ahly the record of five African Champions League titles, seemed content to end a long run of losses in a rivalry that began 91 years ago.

Dynamos shocked ASEC 2-1 in Abidjan Saturday and Tout Puissant Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo snatched the Group B leadership Sunday by defeating Cotonsport Garoua of Cameroon 2-0 in Lubumbashi.

The fixture between two-time African champions Enyimba of Nigeria and Al-Hilal of Sudan was postponed until Monday because of a waterlogged pitch in the south-east town of Aba.

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