Maarouf Yusuf started for Zamalek but failed to make a notable impact (Photo: Ahram)
Zamalek maintained their nine-point advantage over arch rivals Ahly and moved a step closer towards sealing an elusive Egyptian Premier League title after easing to a 3-0 victory over already-relegated Damanhour on Wednesday.
A first-half goal from Ahmed Eid and further strikes from Ayman Hefni and Tarek Hamed sealed the home win at Petrosport Stadium for Jesualdo Ferreira's men.
Zamalek cemented their position on top of the table with 73 points, nine clear of second-placed ENPPI, who played four games more, and nine ahead of defending champions Ahly who played an extra match.
The White Knights, who look formidable this season after signing more than a dozen players last summer, need 13 more points to win the title for the first time since 2004.
Eid breaks deadlock
While Zamalek were expected to dominate outright, it was the league minnows who almost took an unlikely lead, when Abou Kone's header was brilliantly parried by keeper Ahmed El-Shennawi with just two minutes on the clock.
But Zamalek asserted their control immediately but struggled to pose real threat on goal despite the huge pockets of space offered by their opponents in their own half.
The Whites' first chance came from understudy center-half Islam Gamal, who narrowly missed the target with a strike from outside the area after 18 minutes.
In-form playmaker Hefni also had a shot blocked by a superb save from the keeper but Eid made amends when a flick-on from striker Khaled Qamar fell into his path at the far post to fire in off the post.
Shortly afterwards, Zamalek could have well made it two-nil with an outstanding left-footed strike from midfielder Ahmed Tawfik, who roamed the right side of the pitch, only to see his effort agonizingly ricochet off the post.
Two goals, drab second half
Zamalek then doubled their advantage through Hefni 10 minutes after the interval after the dazzling playmaker initially saw his spot kick saved by the keeper before smashing home on the rebound.
The hosts then slacked off after their second goal, while being helped by their tame opponents who looked far from dangerous throughout, until Hamed made it three near the end with his first Zamalek goal.
With eight minutes remaining, Hamed received the ball outside the area as the holding midfielder capitalized on a poor piece of goalkeeping to ensure Zamalek's win.
Bassem Morsi, uncharacteristically introduced as a second-half sub, was then unlucky to see his strike denied by the post following some brilliant work from starlet Mostafa Fathi but all three points already had the three points in the bag.
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