Zamalek failed to restore their four-point lead on top of the Egyptian Premier League after being held to an exciting 2-2 draw with Arab Contractors on Wednesday, ten days before meeting nearest challengers Ahly in an anticipated Cairo derby.
The White Knights let slip their lead twice to settle for a second successive draw, throwing the title race wide open.
Central defender Mahmoud Hamdi gave Zamalek the lead with a fine diving header on the stroke of halftime, only for Abdel-Wahab Ismail to restore parity early in the second period with a fortuitous goal.
Defensive midfielder Tarek Hamed scored a rare goal to put Zamalek ahead again, netting home on the rebound after Mahmoud Alaa's penalty was blocked by superb keeper Mahmoud Aboul-Saoud.
However, ex-Zamalek striker Ahmed Ali converted a 80th-minute penalty to haunt his old club and secure a share of spoils.
Zamalek remain top of the table with 53 points but had their lead over Ahly trimmed to just two points. Both sides meet at Alexandria's Borg El-Arab Stadium on 30 Match in a derby which could define the season.
The visitors struggled to break down a dogged Contractors defence, with the first real chance falling to Mahmoud Kahraba in the 44th minute as his curling effort was tipped over by Aboul-Saoud.
From the resulting corner, Hamdi stooped to head home Kahraba's corner at the near post.
Ismail leveled the score in the 52nd minute, his right-wing cross eluding a crowd of defenders and nestling into the corner of the net.
Zamalek were awarded a penalty after winger Ahmed Sayed was felled in the area but the effort of spot-kick specialist Alaa was blocked, only for Hamed to follow up and drill home in the 63rd minute.
But Contractors, who also beat Ahly with a late goal, had the last laugh when Ali tucked away a penalty after Hamdi looked to have tripped a striker.
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