Zamalek beat Smouha 2-0 in the Egyptian Premier League on Saturday (Photo: Ahram)
Two stoppage-time headers helped Zamalek avoid a fourth successive 0-0 draw with a late win against 10-man Smouha in the Egyptian Premier League on Saturday, ending what outspoken chairman Mortada Mansour termed as "black magic".
Burly striker Bassem Morsi, who replaced the ineffective Khaled Qamar in the second half, headed home three minutes into the injury time to spark wild celebrations among his teammates and the technical staff members, who were relieved Zamalek had finally broken their duck after drawing a blank in three 0-0 league stalemates.
Playmaker Moemen Zakareya, who set up Morsi for the precious goal, powered in another header before the final whistle to give Zamalek their second win of the season after they hammered Talae El-Geish 6-1 in their opening game.
The result gives Portuguese coach Jaime Pacheco a winning start after he replaced Hossam Hassan with the aim of restoring the battered pride of Zamalek, who have not won the Premier League since 2004, with arch-rivals Ahly claiming four titles in a row.
Zamalek had to work hard for the win, having been once again profligate, squandering a hatful of goal-scoring opportunities. They were helped by the 60th-minute red card given to Smouha striker Hani El-Egeizi for catching an opponent in the face with a flailing hand.
They moved to sixth place in the table with nine points, three behind leaders Maqassa who played a game more. Last season's runners-up Smouha, who have recently appointed Frenchman Denis Lavagne as their new coach, continued their poor run as they lie ninth with seven points from six matches.
Lack of cutting edge
Khaled Qamar was deployed as a lone striker in front of three attacking midfielders in Ayman Hefni, Moemen Zakareya and Omar Gaber, with the latter reclaiming his place in the starting line-up after falling down the pecking order recently.
As was the case during the previous three matches, Zamalek looked solid and assured at the back and found no difficulty penetrating the Smouha backline on several occasions.
But, still lacking the cutting edge, they wasted a chance after chance, to the disappointment of chairman Mortada Mansour who cut a frustrating figure in the stands.
A Zakareya far-post header struck the post on 25 minutes before the ball fell to Hefni who failed to beat Egyptian Mohamed Sobhi from close range with the goal at his mercy.
Hefni spurned another clear-cut opportunity when he needlessly attempted to control an astute pass inside the area while well positioned to shoot, allowing the Smouha defence to clear the danger.
El-Egeizi's dismissal on the hour mark allowed Zamalek to mount further pressure but their poor finishing continued to let them down, with Bassem Morsi's deflected shot narrowly missing the target and Sobhi pulling off an impressive save to thwart a free-kick from substitute Ahmed Eid.
The breakthrough came in the dying minutes when Morsi escaped the attention of his markers to head home a Zakareya cross from close range and notch his first competitive goal since joining in the close season.
Zakareya turned from provider to scorer with a firm header following a right-wing cross as Zamalek breathed a sigh of relief.
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