Ahmed Hossam “Mido” scored after making his long-awaited appearance as Zamalek came from behind to hit six goals past promoted Ghazl El-Mahalla in their first Egyptian Premier League game on Wednesday.
The Cairo giants, wearing a new Adidas kit, secured a much-needed win with a comprehensive score-line to ease their woes following their stunning Egypt Cup final defeat by ENPPI which prevented them from ending a three-year title drought.
Striker Mido, who rejoined his boyhood club last January, was introduced in the second half to finally taste action after administrative, weight and fitness problems delayed his first appearance.
He still appeared over-weight but managed to convert a penalty to net his first Zamalek goal in two years and put them 5-1 up with nine minutes remaining. New signing Hussein Hamdy, another substitute, opened his account a minute later to complete the rout.
Mahalla surprisingly took the lead early in the game through a debatable goal from Samuel Owusu but Zamalek overturned the deficit with a double salvo from Amr Zaki and goals from Mahmoud Fathallah and Ahmed Hassan.
Zaki’s brace, however, is likely to hit headlines for the wrong reasons. His first effort did not cross the goal-line and he used his hand in the build up to the second goal.
The White Knights bagged their first three points, having been absent in the first round after their match against Wadi Degla was postponed following their opponents’ bus crash. El-Mahalla remain pointless following their second successive defeat.
Zamalek dominated the early stages but El-Mahalla were dangerous on the break, relying on the pace of Ghanaian frontman Owusu to expose the gaps in their opponents’ midfield.
El-Mahalla wasted an early goal-scoring opportunity but Owusu made amends after nine minutes, running onto a through pass from Mohamed Abdallah to break clear, round keeper Abdel-Wahed El-Sayed and slot into an empty net.
Television replays were inconclusive as to whether he was in an offside position.
El-Mahalla keeper Ibrahim Abdel-Gawad blocked two powerful shots from Shikabala and Ahmed Samir but was at fault as Zamalek equalized in the 17th minute.
The unmarked Fathallah rose to head a Shikabala corner home past a poorly-positioned Abdel-Gawad, who was replaced few minutes later after picking up an injury.
His understudy, Sameh Aly, was also unlucky but for a different reason. He witnessed a flurry of refereeing blunders as Zamalek ran riot to kill off the hopes of El-Mahalla.
Zaki scored an illegitimate goal to put Zamalek in front in the 27th minute, his fierce drive striking the bar and bouncing just in front of the goal-line but the referee astonishingly allowed the goal to stand, sparking furious protests from El-Mahalla players.
Veteran midfielder Hassan added the third four minutes later when he stole ahead of his marker to neatly control a Shikabala long pass and beat Aly at the near post with a left-foot volley.
Zaki used his hand to control another precise long ball from Shikabala and notch home with aplomb.
Zamalek eased off in the second half after putting the result beyond doubt. Mido entered the fray in the 73rd minute, replacing ineffective striker Ahmed Gaafar.
Looking enthusiastic after a long spell on the sidelines, Mido stepped up to take a penalty awarded for a foul on left-back Mohamed Abdel-Shafy with nine minutes remaining.
He sent the keeper the wrong way before sprinting to the touchline to celebrate his first Zamalek goal since finding the net in October 2009 in a league game against Gouna.
Hamdy put the icing on the cake shortly after when he fired home a cross from Abdel-Shafy.