Dazzling attacking midfielder Mahmoud Kahraba put in an electrifying performance to inspire Zamalek to a 4-1 home win over South Africa's Orlando Pirates that helped the Cairo club finish on top of their group in the African Confederation Cup on Sunday.
Abdel-Moneim "Kahraba", whose nickname means "electricity" in English, an expression of his typical lively displays, completed the rout in the second half and had a hand in three goals, providing two direct assists.
The 21-year-old, who joined Zamalek in the summer from ENPPI after ending loan spells with Swiss sides Luzern and Grasshopper, also caught the eyes with his trickery and catchy feints, leaving the Pirtaes' defenders chasing shadows.
Ahmed Tawfik opened the scoring, newly-arrived striker Ahmed Mekki netted his maiden goal and highly-rated youngster Mostafa Fathi, who came on as a second-half substitute, was also on target as Zamalek ran riot to complete the double over the Pirates, whom they beat 2-1 in Nelspruit two months ago after coming from a goal down.
Their impressive win put the already-qualified outfit on top of Group B after they became the first Egyptian side to garner 15 points from six games in the group stage of any African competition.
They will face Tunisia's Etoile in the semis while the Pirates, who finished second with 12 points, take on Zamalek's arch rivals Ahly in the other last-four clash.
Kahraba's virtuoso display
Zamalek dominated the early exchanges, mounting an early onslaught that saw playmaker Mohamed Ibrahim, who returned to the club in the summer after a brief Portuguese spell, strike the post with a powerful shot on 10 minutes after some good individual work.
Their pressure quickly paid off, with Tawfik firing home a loose ball from inside the area after Kahraba's attempt to evade a challenger slipped the ball into his path.
Kahraba should have made it 2-0 on 24 minutes when he ran half the length of the pitch unopposed after breaking the offside trap but, rather than shooting, he opted to square the ball to Mekki who slipped after being caught off guard, apparently not realizing that Kahraba would try to feed him.
Zamalek were punished for the miss when the Pirates briefly leveled after 30 minutes, with Oupa Manyisa cutting ahead of two markers and keeper Mahmoud Gennesh to convert a superb left-wing cross from Thamsangpa Gabuza at the near post.
Mekki made amends seven minutes later to restore the lead when he neatly combined with Kahraba, finding the skilful forward before running onto a delightful back-heel return pass that sliced open the defence to fire an angled low shot into the bottom corner.
Zamalek easily added two more goals in the second period to put the Pirates to sword, with their formidable attacking midfielders proving too good for the hapless South Africans.
Substitute Fathi scored with his first touch, drilling home after a cut-back from Kahraba picked him out unmarked on 63 minutes before Kahraba capped his efforts with a goal on the breakaway three minutes later.
Zamalek missed further chances in the latter stages, including a one-on-one effort from Mekki, but they will still be delighted to secure a comprehensive win that lifted them to the semis on their debut in the 11-year-old version of Africa's secondary club competition.
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