A first-half penalty from Ferjani Sassi helped Zamalek restore their two-point lead on top of the Egyptian Premier League table following a 1-0 win over struggling Smouha in Cairo on Wednesday.
The in-form Tunisian midfielder calmly tucked away the spot-kick eight minutes before the break, which proved to be the winner as Zamalek failed to add to their lead despite totally dominating the game.
For all their territorial dominance, the White Knights struggled for creativity in the final third, with winger Mahmoud Kahraba, one of their standout performers for the majority of the season, once again producing a sluggish performance.
Zamalek's sole clear-cut chance in the first half fell to Sassi, who headed just wide from a right-wing cross after five minutes.
But he made amends when his penalty found the top corner of the net after a Smouha defender needlessly felled Morocco striker Khalid Boutaib, who had already sent a weak shot into the keeper's hands after breaking clear.
In the second half, Zamalek remained in control as Smouha offered little resistance despite sitting third from bottom in the table with only 25 points.
Goal-scoring opportunities were still scarce but deep-lying forward Youssef Ibrahim could have put the result beyond doubt in the 56th minute when he was at the end of a flowing move, sending a bullet header that was superbly blocked by Smouha keeper Mohamed Abou-Gabal.
Winger Ahmed Sayed, who joined Zamalek in January, also came close when he bamboozled his challenger in the area, only to drill his angled shot wide of the post.
Zamalek are on top of the table with 57 points, two ahead of Ahly in an exciting two-horse race for the title, with Pyramids lurking in third on 51 points although they played a game more than the Cairo duo.
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