By Sports Reporter/Doha
Captain Mohamed El Shenawy saved two penalties in the shootout as Al Ahly edged Palmeiras 3-2 to finish third at the FIFA Club World Cup after 90 minutes had ended goalless at the Education City Stadium.
The victory saw Egypt’s Al Ahly equal their best-ever finish in the global competition having also finished third in the 2006 tournament in Japan. For Copa Libertadores champions Palmeiras it was a forgettable outing in Qatar, with the Brazilians having coming into the tournament as the biggest threat to Bayern Munich.
Palmeiras coach Abel Ferreira made four changes to the side which lost to Tigres in the semi-finals. The Portuguese brought in Mayke, Felipe Melo, Patrick de Paula and Willian. Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane had to reshuffle his team due to the absence of injured Tunisian left back Ali Maaloul and suspended duo Mahmoud Kahraba and Hussein El Shahat, who were suspended by FIFA for violating the tournament’s strict precautionary measures. Yasser Ibrahim replaced Maaloul in the left-back position, while Akram Tawfik and Walter Bwalya made their return to the Red Devils starting line-up.
Al Ahly started the brighter and had a great opportunity midway through the first half. A mistake by captain Felipe Melo enabled Amr Elsoulia to go through on goal, but he pulled his shot wide.
Mohamed Afsha spurned another good chance for the Egyptians, and Rony twice threatened for Palmeiras, but the opening 45 finished goalless.
The Brazilians came out for the second half in search of a breakthrough, and Rony and Patrick de Paula quickly missed attempts.
In the 66th minute, Elsoulia’s fine volley forced Weverton into a smart save. Junior Ajayi fired home the rebound, but the Nigerian was adjudged to have been offside.
Patrick did well to hold off his marker and power into the Ahly area, but he pulled his fierce, low drive wide of the post in the 80th minute and the contest went to a shootout.
El Shenawy, one of Ahly’s standout performers in their treble-winning campaign last season, produced two superb saves in the shootout. The Ahly captain dived the right to keep out Felipe Melo’s fifth spot kick, having previously denied Rony’s dismal first penalty shot. Palmeiras’ Adriano also missed the target. For Ahly, Badr Benoun, Mohamed Hani and Ajayi found the net, with with Amr El Sulaya and Marwan Mohsen failing to score.
It’s the first time for Ahly in six Club World Cup appearances to overcome the Copa Libertadores winners, having lost in the semis to Brazilian duo Internacional and Corinthians in 2006 and 2012 respectively.
A delighted Ahly coach Mosimane praised his players for their performance in the tournament. “We have achieved what we had wished for. We played good in all the matches in this tournament, and I look forward to a better future in the coming seasons with Al Ahly at the Club World Cup,” the South African said.
“We performed well in today’s match against Palmeiras, as well as against Bayern Munich. I hope to win the African Championship this season and to repeat this performance in the next edition of the Club World Cup,” Mosimane added.
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