A delightful free kick by striker Bassem Morsy helped Zamalek coast to a 2-0 victory over Gouna at Air Defense Stadium in the Egyptian league on Thursday.
In-form Morsy, who bagged his sixth league goal, put his side in front in the 53rd minute before substitute Ahmed Eid put the result beyond doubt from the spot five minutes from time.
The three points were vital for title-chasing Zamalek, who now moved to the top of the table with 31 points, ahead of their top-of-the-table clash with ENPPI next week.
Zamalek struggle through steadfast Gouna defense
Zamalek struggled to break a dogged Gouna defense throughout the first half, which witnessed no real chances for either side.
Despite failing to find a breakthrough, Zamalek looked to have the sort of quality capable of giving them the edge in attacking midfielder Ayman Hefni, who created two half-chances in the first 45 minutes.
Capitalising on their intense pressing game, Hefni and striker Bassem Morsy managed to dispossess the visitors' defense – with the former laying the ball off to the onrushing Ahmed Tawfik who blasted wide.
Hefni appeared again in the 35th minute, this time playing in Moemen Zakareya with an excellent through pass – with the latter firing wide from tight angle.
Delightful Morsy free kick
While title-contenders Zamalek were expected to have the upper hand in terms of goal threat early on, it was Gouna who proved dangerous when midfielder Ali Eid latched onto a through ball down the right before seeing his strike saved by keeper Mohamed Abo Gabal.
As Zamalek didn't entirely look to have set-piece specialists, Morsy came to prove otherwise with a powerful curling free kick that beat the keeper at the near post to give his side the lead.
On the hour-mark Zamalek almost doubled their lead when the impressive Morsy crossed for right winger Hazem Emam, but the latter was unlucky to see his delicate effort bounce off the bar.
With midfielder Ibrahim Salah just one booking away from suspension ahead of the crucial ENPPI clash, it was Emam who was substituted by Maarouf Youssef, as Jaime Pacheco looked to commit numbers in midfield.
But Portuguese boss Pacheco could have been forced to change his tactics again, if Islam Mohareb managed to make the most of a blunder by Zamalek center back Ali Gabr before missing the target from close range.
As Zamalek looked to preserve their slender lead in the latter stages of the game, they needed again a brilliant piece of skill from Hefni to put the game to bed, and again the midfield wizard managed to win a penalty after being tripped inside the box.
Eid, who came on as a second-half sub, made no mistake from the spot to ensure his side have come out with all three points and climbed to the top of the table.
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