Zamalek edged out Masry 1-0 at Alexandria's Borg El-Arab Stadium (Photo: Ahram)
Zamalek had to weather an immense Masry pressure to snatch all three points in a fast-paced Egyptian League clash at Alexandria's Borg El-Arab Stadium on Friday.
In a game that was totally dominated by Hossam Hassan's men, Zamalek returnee Ahmed Gaafar was the hero with a headed first-half winner, his 45th goal in two spells with the White Knights.
Zamalek had to overcome a host of injury absences against the Port-Said outfit, with forwards Ayman Hefni, Mostafa Fathi and Stanley Ohawuchi missing the tie, leaving manager Moemen Soliman with little options upfront.
The victory, which comes right before the international break, took Zamalek to tenth spot of the league standings on 10 points, but they still have four games in hand. They won three times and drew once in their opening four matches.
Goal against run of play
From the off, Masry pressed Zamalek energetically high up the pitch and it was just seconds when understudy keeper Mahmoud 'Gennesh' was called into action following a free-kick from the visitors.
It was just the beginning of the Zamalek guardian's exploits, going on to deny Masry's Mahmoud 'Onnosh' who missed two further chances inside the first half.
Zamalek, who started with an unusual 4-3-3 format featuring an attacking trio of Gaafar, Bassem Morsi and natural full-back Hosni Fathi, seemed unable to get around Masry's pressure and retrieve the ball.
The Cairo giants tried to cope by playing long balls towards the attacking trident, with striker Gaafar doing well to link up with his teammates.
The towering frontman provided his all-important contribution on the stroke of half-time, when he headed in a pin-point Mohamed Nassef cross from the left past the Masry keeper who was at fault for a mis-timed jump.
The second half did not bring an entirely different affair, with Zamalek manager Soliman signaling his intent to sit back and defend his slender lead.
Zamalek switched to two banks of four, with Fathi and Maarouf flanking holding duo Mahmoud 'Dunga' and Ahmed Tawfik – with Morsi playing behind Gaafar.
Despite being given all time on the ball, Masry were not really dangerous until stoppage time when they looked quite close to bagging the sought-after equaliser.
Substitute Hermann Kouao was the man who could have gotten his name on the scoresheet late on, having been denied by the bar after getting a touch to the ball inside the six-yard box in the second minute of injury time.
Zamalek substitute Ahmed Refaat could have cost his side a goal in the final minute but over-achieving keeper Gennesh was there to keep a clean sheet and ensure his side's win.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)