Zamalek playmaker Ayman Hefni (Photo: Zamalek's official Facebook page)
Zamalek cemented their position on top of the Egyptian league table with a narrow 1-0 victory away at Smouha, thanks to an outstanding performance from mercurial playmaker Ayman Hefni whose late penalty gave his side all three points.
With the match seemingly heading to a goalless draw, Zamalek substitute Omar Gaber won a penalty in the 82nd minute and Hefni made no mistake from the spot to end the resistance of Smouha.
Zamalek are now seven points clear at the top of the table with 51 points, with closest challengers ENPPI lying second on 44 points. Last season's runners-up Smouha remain 13th in the table after a string of poor results.
The dazzling Hefni
Smouha were the side who started strongly, having tested Zamalek's rearguard on several occasions during the opening minutes - but the hosts' defense managed to foil their threat.
But skillful midfielder Hefni was the one who Zamalek would rely on for orchestrating their attacks, combining well with striker Khaled Qamar after 10 minutes.
Hefni then came to provide glimpses of his flamboyant skills, when he managed to brilliantly evade several challengers before going one-on-one with the keeper, who rushed out in time to thwart the Zamalek star.
Qamar then had a chance to give his side the lead, thanks to another assist from Hefni but the Zamalek striker spurned the opportunity.
The Alexandrians then had a chance through former Ahly midfielder Ahmed Shokry, who set up Ivorian forward Herman Kouauo before full-back Hamada Tolba managed to clear the threat away.
Zamalek manager Jesualdo Ferreira replaced midfielder Ahmed Tawfik with Gaber, who did well to link the midfield and attack.
Smouha, however, posed threat in the 60th minute through another substitute in former Ahly and Zamalek striker Hani El-Egeizi before Zamalek's Ahmed Eid headed narrowly wide from a corner.
But the major highlight of the match came 22 minutes later, when Gaber was allegedly tripped by a Smouha defender inside the area before Hefni stepped up to send the keeper the wrong way and score the crucial winner. Television replays showed that the contact was minimal between Gaber and his challenger.
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