Egypt's Zamalek fought bravely before slumping to a narrow 3-2 defeat by Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk in a friendly game in the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday.
Former Arsenal striker Eduardo da Silva gave Shakhtar the lead after nine minutes when he latched onto a long ball that caught Zamalek's central defenders napping to send a left-foot first-timer past keeper Abdel-Wahed El-Sayed.
Zamalek leveled the score eight minutes later when striker Ahmed Gaafar robbed a Shakhtar defender inside the area before squaring the ball to veteran midfielder Ahmed Hassan for an easy tap-in.
The ailing Cairo side went ahead on 37 minutes after diminutive attacking midfielder Mohamed Ibrahim, who took part in Egypt's recent friendly games against Ghana and Ivory Coast, cut inside his marker on the left before placing a precise shot into the corner of the net.
However, veteran Croatian defender Darijo Srna restored parity on the stroke of halftime, his left-foot volley from just inside the area striking El-Sayed's hands and going in after Zamalek's defence failed to clear a cross.
The second half was even more exciting, with both sides trading attacks in a high-tempo game. Ibrahim was unlucky not to restore Zamalek's advantage when his fierce long-range drive struck the bar three minutes past the hour mark.
Shakhtar, who also wasted some clear-cut opportunities, snatched a victory with two minutes remaining when Armenian forward Henrik Mkhitaryan fired home from close range following a low cross from the right.
The match was part of a friendly tournament that also features Saudi Arabia's Al-Hilal and Russia's Zenit St Petersburg, whom Zamalek face on Saturday.
Zamalek are preparing for the new Egyptian Premier League season, which is set to start on 2 February. Shakhtar, one of the European Champions League dark horses, will face Germany's Borussia Dortmund in the elite competition's round of 16 next month.
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