Some Zamalek fans violated a crowd ban as their team threw away their lead to suffer a stunning 2-1 defeat by Ittihad El-Shorta at Cairo Stadium in the Egyptian Premier League on Tuesday.
The hosts took an early lead after veteran midfielder Ahmed Hassan, who was surprisingly substituted few minutes later, converted a controversial penalty.
The match was held up for several minutes after some Zamalek fans defied a crowd ban imposed by the Egyptian Football Association. Reports said security forces arrested dozens of fans outside the stadium.
“I was attacked by the fans, who threw stones at me,” an injured policeman told Al-Hayat TV after the match.
El-Shorta overturned the deficit with two quick-fire goals early in the second half, thanks to efforts from Salah Ashour and Nigerian 19-year-old forward Maruf Yusuf.
Zamalek, who lie fifth on 10 points, missed out on the chance of moving second. They are four points behind leaders and arch-rivals Ahly, who played a match more. El-Shorta are fourth with 11 points.
Zamalek needed six minutes to open the scoring via a disputed penalty. The referee pointed to the spot after striker Amr Zaki went down under a light challenge from Fathi Mabrouk.
The match was interrupted before Hassan took the penalty after tens of fans stormed the stands and lit firecrackers. They were ejected few minutes later.
Amer Hussein, head of the Egyptian Football Association’s competition committee, announced his resignation shortly after during a live TV show, saying he was saddened by the ongoing turmoil in domestic football. It remains to be seen whether the club would be punished following that incident.
Hassan fired home into the roof of the net to put Zamalek ahead but the team’s huge defensive gaps allowed El-Shorta to launch a wave of attacks, only to be denied by in-form keeper Abdel-Wahed El-Sayed.
El-Sayed superbly tipped a curling free kick from Abdallah Farouk before diving low to his right to palm a close-range shot after Zamalek’s central defensive pair, Mahmoud Fathallah and Salah Soliman, were caught napping.
Despite El-Short’s surprise onslaught, Zamalek had a chance to double their advantage on 22 minutes when winger Shikabala ran onto a through pass from Zaki but was unlucky to see his fierce shot strike the bar.
El-Shorta stunned Zamalek early in the second half, scoring twice in eight minutes after making the most of some dreadful defensive blunders.
Ashour narrowed the gap four minutes after the restart when he nipped in between two markers to rise unmarked and head home a right-wing cross.
Yusuf put El-Shorta in front in the 57th minute when he latched onto a threaded pass, held off marker Ibrahim Salah to break clear and notch home with aplomb.
Zamalek piled on pressure but were unable to break down a resilient El-Shorta side, who beat the odds to claim a precious win.