Below-par Zamalek suffered another dent in their hopes of winning the Egyptian Premier League after slumping to a 1-0 loss to Talae El-Geish on Wednesday, losing more ground in the title race.
Striker Salah Amin, 36, notched what proved to be the winner with a superb curling effort three minutes past the hour mark to condemn Zamalek to their fourth defeat in 16 league matches, ending their three-match winning run.
Zamalek wasted a first-half penalty but were otherwise lethargic, failing to break down the dogged defence of El-Geish who were dangerous on the break.
They remain fourth in the table with 28 points but are nine behind leaders Ismaily and eight adrift of second-placed and arch-rivals Ahly, who have a game in hand.
Zamalek next face nemesis Ahly in the first Cairo derby of the season on Monday.
A cagey first-half was evenly-balanced, with both sides struggling to mount serious threats.
But El-Geish created one of the few tangible chances in the first half when Amr Amouri was found unmarked by a long ball at the far post after eight minutes. He neatly controlled the ball but his low effort struck the legs of goalkeeper Ahmed El-Shennawi.
Zamalek lacked creativity in the final third and had their first sight of goal six minutes before the break when they were awarded a penalty after pacy striker Benjamin Acheampong tumbled under a soft challenge from goalkeeper Mohamed Bassam following a deep long ball which released the Ghanaian.
Attacking midfielder Salah Ashour's tame spot-kick was easily saved by Bassam and he was replaced in the second half, making way for Congolese forward Kabongo Kasongo, who scored the winner in the 1-0 victory over Assiouty Sport last Saturday.
But he failed to make an impact and it was El-Geish who managed to create openings.
Zamalek defender Ali Gabr was robbed and Amouri went close with a curling shot that was blocked by El-Shennawi in the 61st minute.
There was no let-off two minutes later, however, with Egyptian international defender Gabr at fault again.
He gave away possession and the resulting move saw Amin race towards the area, holding off Tarek Hamed and Mahmoud Hamdi before sending an exquisite right-foot curler that left El-Shennawi with no chance.
Zamalek poured forward in the dying minutes but were unable to unlock the watertight backline as 10th-placed El-Geish held on for a precious win.
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