Hamid Ahaddad scored his maiden goal as Egypt’s Zamalek snatched a 1-0 victory over Angola’s Petro Atletico in Luanda to revive their hopes of reaching the African Confederation Cup knockout phase on Sunday.
The Moroccan forward, who has made a few appearances since joining Zamalek last summer, grasped his chance with both hands after deputizing for in-form winger Mahmoud Kahraba, who was suspended by the club for disciplinary reasons.
Ahaddad finished off Zamalek’s only meaningful move in the first half to give the team a smash-and-grab victory, their first in Group D of Africa’s secondary club competition after four matches.
They held on in the second half despite some dangerous crosses from Atletico to move up to second in the group with five points, one behind Kenya’s Gor Mahia who meet Algeria’s NA Hussein Dey (four points) later in the day.
Petro Atletico, who were inches away from grabbing a famous win over Zamalek in Alexandria only to concede a last-gasp equaliser last month, lie third on four points.
Unlike in their recent games on the road, Zamalek were largely cautious, with Mahmoud Abdel-Aziz filling the gap left by midfield linchpin Tarek Hamed, who missed the match due to automatic suspension.
Zamalek’s conservative approach restricted Atletico to some tame efforts in the first half and they relied on breakaways to score the goal they craved.
The goal arrived in the 27th minute when January recruit Ahmed Sayed found space on the right to send in a low cross, with Ahaddad cutting ahead of his marker to rifle a first-timer into the roof of the net.
Atletico’s best chance fell to striker Tony, whose downward free header missed the target with the goal at his mercy four minutes before the break.
The hosts’ only threats in the second period came via angled set-pieces, with Zamalek’s defenders struggling to beat Atletico’s forwards in aerial challenges. However, they could not find a way through keeper Mahmoud Gennesh as Zamalek claimed their first win in the tight group.