Zamalek kept alive their faint Egyptian Premier League hopes when they survived a scare from Ittihad El-Shorta to send their modest opponents to the second division with a 3-2 victory on Saturday.
The Cairo giants, who are still aiming to win a second successive league title, looked to be cruising to a comprehensive win when they took a 3-0 lead, thanks to goals from Mohamed Ibrahim, Bassem Morsi (penalty) and Mostafa Fathi.
However, El-Shorta threatened to stage a remarkable comeback with two late goals from Saied Kamal and Salah Rico but Zamalek eventually claimed all three points for their eighth consecutive win, their seventh under caretaker coach Mohamed Helmi.
Zamalek's recent impressive run is unlikely to derail Ahly's title bid though.
The victory over El-Shorta helped Zamalek narrow the gap with Ahly to five points but the leaders will regain their eight-point advantage on top if they beat Masry in a rescheduled game on Monday.
With three matches remaining for Zamalek and four for Ahly, the latter need just five points to wrap up their ninth title in 10 seasons.
El-Shorta became the third team to suffer relegation after Haras El-Hodoud and Ghazl El-Mahalla as they lie third from bottom with 22 points, ten behind Aswan with three matches to go.
In the first 10 minutes, winger Mahmoud Kahraba had a shot from inside the area blocked by the defence while El-Shorta's Mohamed Bassiouni went close when he swiveled and hit a low shot just wide.
Although Zamalek were in firm control, with three attacking midfielders supporting lone striker Morsi, they barely threatened until playmaker Ibrahim put them ahead on 37 minutes when his angled low shot went in off the post after he was set up by Kahraba.
Zamalek were awarded a penalty early in the second half when El-Shorta full-back Ahmed Adel handled a cross from left-back Adel Gomaa and Morsi stepped up to send a low shot into the bottom corner on 49 minutes.
Fathi rattled the bar with a swerving shot before making amends on 62 minutes to add the third, with his unstoppable left-foot piledriver leaving the keeper with no chance.
Both sides wasted a slew of goal-scoring opportunities as they were given acres of space to operate but Zamalek were handed a scare after easing off, with El-Shorta pulling one back when Kamal pounced on the defence's failure to clear an innocuous cross to curl home from inside the area in the 73rd minute.
Rico, who is likely to join Zamalek in the summer, added the second with a simple finish at the far post after a left-wing cross eluded the defence but the White Knights held on to continue their winning run.
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