Leaders Zamalek failed to break down a resilient ENPPI side to draw 0-0 in a drab game, losing ground in the Egyptian Premier League on Tuesday.
Chances were few and far between as Zamalek failed to secure a third successive win, having defeated Haras El-Hodoud and Petrojet in two tough encounters following the league’s resumption earlier this month.
Zamalek’s central defender Mahmoud Fathallah wasted a penalty for the second match running as the White Knights lost ground in their bid to win a first league title since 2004.
They are now five points clear of second-placed Ismaily, who defeated El-Gouna 3-2 in a thrilling match on Monday.
Defending champions Ahly, who are eyeing a seventh successive league crown, could close to within four points of arch-rivals Zamalek if they defeat Masry on Friday.
The first half saw some wayward and mis-placed passes which did neither side any favours in their bid to break the deadlock.
Zamalek and ENPPI left huge gaps in midfield but they could not exploit the lapses of each other in a dour affair before the break.
The Cairo side lost a chance when midfielder Hassan Mostafa failed to get on the end of a superb flick from towering striker Ahmed Gaafar.
ENPPI, on the other hand, spurned a golden opportunity to get ahead five minutes before the interval, when a slip by Zamalek’s Ashour El-Adham allowed Mohamed Aboul-Ella to break clear of the defence, but his low shot went wide.
The second half was no different, as both sides barely created clear-cut opportunities, despite plenty of spaces being carved out at both ends.
But Zamalek still had an opportunity to grab the lead at 53 minutes, when they awarded a penalty after ENPPI’s veteran defender Abdel-Zaher El-Saqqa pushed Gaafar when both men were contesting a header.
Spot-kick specialist Fathallah stepped up but ENPPI keeper Mohamed Abou-Gabal made the right guess to thwart his effort and keep his clean sheet.
Zamalek coach Hossam Hassan introduced Ivorian striker Abou Kone to pile on pressure but to no avail as ENPPI held firm to secure a share of the spoils.