Kabongo Kasongo atoned for a number of misses and poorly-hit shots to score a scrappy winner in stoppage time as Zamalek rode their luck to beat resilient Wadi Degla 1-0 for their third consecutive Egyptian Premier League win on Wednesday.
The Congolese forward, under fire for his recent poor displays, stabbed home on the goalline three minutes into the additional time after a free-kick caused mayhem in the Degla area, giving Zamalek a barely-deserved win.
Degla were unlucky not to open the scoring earlier, twice missing in one-on-one situations as Zamalek keeper Ahmed El-Shennawi produced a superb display to stake his claim for an Egypt spot at the World Cup finals in Russia.
Zamalek kept alive their hopes of a second-place finish that would earn them an African Champions League qualification. Their third straight victory under new coach Ihab Galal lifted them to the third spot on 42 points, four behind second-placed Ismaily who have a game in hand.
Degla are 14th with 25 points, just four above the relegation zone.
Although Zamalek wasted two chances to grab the lead in the first half, with winger Abdallah Gomaa fizzing a shot just wide and off-form forward Kasongo blasting high over after being sent clean on goal, they were largely on the back foot against a spirited Degla side.
Degla's high pressing game made life difficult for the hosts, who struggled at times to get the ball out of their own half.
The relentless pressure could have resulted in a surprise opener for Degla in the 32nd minute when striker Omar El-Said broke through after a mistake from Zamalek's central defender Mahmoud Alaa, only for goalkeeper El-Shennawi to thwart him in superb fashion.
In an end-to-end second half, a header from Alaa following a cross from playmaker Ayman Hefni struck the woodwork but Degla looked the more likely to score after spurning two golden chances as Zamalek's defence crumbled.
El-Said, who has 12 goals to his name so far this season, shot just wide with the goal at his mercy after racing clear and Senegalese forward Ibrahima Ndiaye had his effort blocked by a one-handed save from El-Shennawi following a similar move.
They were punished at the death when a floated free kick was flicked by the unmarked Alaa past experienced keeper Mohamed Abdel-Monsef, with Kasongo popping up to stab the ball home for his fifth goal of the season, making up for another disappointing display upfront.
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