Zamalek striker Bassem Morsi celebrates after scoring the winner against Aswan (Photo: Ahram)
Zamalek survived a second-half onslaught from a gutsy Aswan side to hold onto their slender lead and emerge 1-0 winners in the Egyptian League on Thursday.
The sole goal of the game was scored in the first half through Egypt striker Bassem Morsi for his second game in a row.
The win was vital for an ailing Zamalek side, who finally brought a four-match winless streak to a halt that featured two defeats against bitter rivals Ismaily and Ahly and draws with Smouha and Wadi Degla.
Second-placed Zamalek now managed to narrow the gap with leaders Ahly to five points after the latter failed to overcome second-from-bottom Ghazl El-Mahalla earlier in the day.
On the other side, newly-promoted Aswan, who managed to frustrate Zamalek to a 1-1 draw earlier in the campaign, are now 12th of the league table on 22 points.
First half domination
Zamalek, managed by caretaker coach Mohamed Salah, dictated play in the opening stages - where they frequently looked to rely upon their flanks particularly the left side early on.
Left-sided forward Mahmoud Kahraba capitalized on the spaces left behind the opposition's full-back, with Hamada Tolba pushing forward and Maarouf Yusuf supporting the duo.
The opener, however, came from the opposite side, with right-sided midfielder Omar Gaber latching onto a lofted through ball from Ayman Hefni before squaring to Morsi who slid the ball past the keeper from inside the area.
Gaber, who looked lively in his midfield role with skipper Hazem Emam regaining his place down the right, then teed up Kahraba in a similar area but the latter was unlucky to see his effort denied by the post.
Morsi, who finally broke his scoring duck in last week's 1-1 draw with Wadi Degla after last finding the net in September 2015, then saw a free kick palmed away by the keeper – who again superbly thwarted Kahraba.
Zamalek retreat, Aswan waste
Unlike the opening half, the second period brought an entirely different affair with Zamalek, inexplicably unable to hold onto the ball and replicate their dominant first-half performance.
Shortly after Osama Marei had been guilty of a glaring miss from point-blank range, ex-Arab Contractors striker Ibrahim El-Masri was forced to see a header blocked by Zamalek keeper Mahmoud Gennesh - who deputized for first-choice goalie Ahmed El-Shennawi - at the near post.
Midfielder Mohamed Rezq then forced another superb save from Gennesh, as Aswan sustained their pressure on the league and cup champions.
But it wasn't the end of Gennesh's heroics though, with the understudy keeper denying El-Masri again after the latter brilliantly took on full-back Hamada Tolba and center-back Mohamed Koffi with a single ball.
Zamalek then held on in the latter stages to come up with all three points against a side who could have well snatched a draw in the second half.