Zamalek's Mohamed Abdel-Shafy (Photo: Reuters)
A superb volley from left-back Mohamed Abdel-Shafy helped Zamalek claim a vital 2-1 home win over Sudanese side Hilal at an empty Air Defence Stadium in the African Champions League on Saturday.
After seeing an early Dominique da Silva header cancelled out by Hilal striker Mudather El Taher following a horrendous blunder from defender Yasser Ibrahim, Abdel-Shafy helped Zamalek avoid another Group A slump with a brilliant individual effort.
The win was much-needed for a stuttering Zamalek who could ill afford losing points against Hilal in Cairo after suffering an opening 2-1 defeat at Congo's Vita Club last week.
The match was staged behind closed doors due to lingering security concerns in Egypt.
Zamalek are second in Group A with their three points. Vita Club visit Mazembe, who lost to Hilal in their opening match, on Sunday.
Zamalek were in control from the outset, with the visitors camping in their own half in an attempt to soak up the hosts' early pressure.
It wasn't long until Hilal were made to pay for their defensive approach, with the Mauritanian Dominique heading Zamalek in front after just six minutes following a pin-point Abdel-Shafy cross.
The Sudanese side, however, almost equalized seven minutes later but Zamalek keeper Abdel-Wahed El-Sayed came to his side's rescue to deny a one-on-one effort from Bakri Babeker.
As the Whites continued to dictate play, a superb piece of skill from youngster Youssef 'Obama' Ibrahim, who was deployed as an out-and-out striker alongside Dominique, could have doubled their lead in the 18th minute.
The 18-year-old teenager controlled the ball inside the area before making a superb turn to unleash a powerful left-footed strike, but saw his shot tipped over by the keeper.
Just a minute later, Mohamed Ibrahim could have seen a cross-cum-shot flow into the net, but again vigilant goalkeeper Gumaa Awad was alert to thwart him.
A lacklustre Hilal pulled level against the run of play when defender Ibrahim failed to clear a ball to allow Mudather to break clear and round keeper Abdel-Wahed before slotting into an empty net on 24 minutes.
Zamalek's first chance of the second period came after 60 minutes when a brilliant one-two between Hazem Emam and Moemen Zakareya saw the former go clear on goal before hitting straight into the keeper's hands.
Keeper Gumaa was once again called into action, denying Zakareya from close range just a minute later.
But a rare Hilal attack exposed Zamalek's defensive frailties, which could have cost them one more time when substitute Mamadou Coulibaly went clear on goal before seeing his looping effort go narrowly wide of the bar 15 minutes from the end.
But a stunning Abdel-Shafy goal eight minutes from time kept Zamalek's hopes in the group stage when he brilliantly controlled the ball near the edge of the area before dispatching a right-footed volley at the near post as the Cairo giants' bench erupted in ecstasy.
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