Stand-in goalkeeper Mahmoud Gennesh blocked two penalties as holders Zamalek sneaked into the Egypt Cup semi-final with a 4-2 shootout victory over a resolute Ittihad side following a goalless draw on Tuesday.
Gennesh, deputizing for regular keeper Ahmed El-Shennawy who is not fully fit after returning from a vacation in Spain, dived the right way to smother the first two kicks for hosts Ittihad in Alexandria.
Zamalek's Ibrahim Salah also failed to deliver from the spot but Mohamed Ibrahim, Mahmoud Kahraba, Tarek Hamed and Ahmed Hassan Mekki were all on target to help the White Knights continue their bid towards a third straight Cup title.
The Egyptian Premier League champions had a handful of chances to settle matters in regulation time but their profligacy could have cost them dearly.
They will face Smouha, whom they beat in last year's final, in the semis. Zamalek's arch-rivals Ahly meet Petrojet in the other last-four clash.
Zamalek were guilty of spurning a host of clear-cut chances in the first half, with lone striker Bassem Morsi wasting three of them.
His tame free header from a pinpoint cross from Nigerian midfielder Maarouf Yussuf missed the target with the goal at his mercy on 26 minutes and another poorly-directed header went over the bar eight minutes later.
He also drew a brilliant save from Ittihad goalkeeper Mahmoud El-Sayed with a snap shot on the turn seven minutes before the break.
Zamalek continued to press forward in the second period but still lacked the cutting edge, with coach Jesualdo Ferreira introducing new signing Ahmed Hassan Mekki to spearhead the attack instead of Morsi while Mohamed Ibrahim, who rejoined the club after ending a Portuguese spell, replaced winger Mostafa Fathi.
Ibrahim also made inroads as he marched towards the area only to see his effort thwarted by the impressive El-Sayed with 15 minutes remaining.
Fellow new signing Mohamed Salem, who joined from Arab Contractors, also came on in the latter stages but he failed to make an impact as the match went straight to penalties, with Mekki converting the decisive spot kick for a precious winner.
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