Zamalek vs. Arab Contractors in the Egyptian Premier League (Photo: Ahram Sport)
Zamalek gave manager Alex McLeish his first win in charge after sealing a 2-0 Egyptian league victory over Arab Contractors at Cairo's Petrosport Stadium on Sunday.
Two goals in three minutes were enough to get Zamalek back on track following last week's 3-1 defeat to El-Entag El-Harby, thanks to late first-half goals from foreign duo Mohamed Koffi and Emmanuel Mayuka.
Zamalek remain second in the league standings on 41 points, six off leaders and arch-rivals Ahly, while Contractors are 15th on 19 points.
Zamalek came on with all guns blazing, and it was just 27 seconds into the opening half when an unmarked Mahmoud Kahraba missed a close-range header following a brilliant team move involving Mostafa Fathi, Ayman Hefni and Omar Gaber.
The league champions, however, did not look quite secure at the back, and keeper Ahmed El-Shennawi had to keep a free kick away just three minutes later.
Ex-Zamalek forward Omar Gamal then squandered an easy chance from inside the area after a terrible clearance from center-back Ali Gabr fell into his path.
After a strong start to the game, the tempo of Zamalek seemed to drop – with Kahraba and Hefni particularly frustrating with their inaccurate passes and excessive holding onto the ball.
But an excellent combination between the aforementioned duo could have well resulted in a goal on 30 minutes, when Kahraba saw a left-footed strike narrowly miss the target by inches from inside the area.
And it was just 10 minutes later when Zamalek opened the scoring through Burkinabe defender Koffi, converting with his head a mishit ball by Mayuka from a Hefni corner.
Hefni and Mayuka were also involved three minutes later in Zamalek's second of the night, when a superb solo effort from Hefni down the right hand side of the area ended up with the Zambian finding the net after turning and shooting towards goal.
It was Mayuka's third goal in four appearances with Zamalek following his arrival in January.
With the Zamalek faithful fearing their side would ease off after the break following the two-goal advantage, Alex McLeish's men came to prove otherwise when they started the second period with the same tempo as the first.
Hefni had a penalty shout turned down by the referee after being tripped inside the area, shortly before winger Fathi saw a trademark left-footed curler go wide.
Wizard Hefni then came back to torment his opponents with his brilliant dribbling skills and close control when he delightfully evaded a challenger before seeing a weak low shot gathered by the keeper.
With Contractors proving too weak for their decorated rivals, Egypt first-choice keeper El-Shennawi was suddenly called into action as he superbly denied ex-Ahly forward Mohamed Fadl in what looked to be a certain goal in the 72nd minute.
Shikabala was then wheeled on in the last 15 minutes instead of Hefni, a change that came after Mayuka made way for Bassem Morsi, but McLeish's substitutions didn't make a notable impact as Zamalek cruised to an easy win.
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