A superbly-struck volley by Mohamed Abdel-Shafy in extra time lifted 10-man Zamalek to the Egyptian Cup semifinal following a thrilling 3-2 comeback victory over Gouna at Cairo Stadium on Sunday.
In the second half of extra time, the lively left-back met a Hazem Emam cross with an unstoppable first-time shot from the edge of the area which left Gouna keeper Mohamed Abdel-Monsef with no chance and sent the home fans into ecstasy.
Gouna took a shocking two-goal lead in the first half, courtesy of goals from forward Arafa El-Sayed and ex-Zamalek midfielder Ashour El-Adham.
Zamalek roared back in the second half, as defender Mahmoud Fathallah reduced the arrears few minutes after the restart and winger Mahmoud Abdel-Razek “Shikabala” leveled the score with eight minutes remaining before the end of regulation time.
The Cairo giants had midfielder Ibrahim Salah sent off one minute later but still managed to overcome Gouna in extra time to set up a semi-final clash with Harras El-Hodoud, who beat second-division side Nassr 1-0 later in the day.
New coach Hassan Shehata is seeking to lead Zamalek to their first trophy since their Egyptian Cup triumph in 2008 under Dutch manager Ruud Krol.
Gouna exposed the gaps in Zamalek’s midfield and defense to stun the home crowd with an 18th-minute goal.
Zamalek defenders were caught ball-watching as Gouna’s right-back Ahmed Adel whipped in a cross for El-Sayed to head the ball home past keeper Abdel-Wahed El-Sayed at the back post.
The hosts piled on pressure to level the score but struggled to break down a tight Gouna defense. Newly-signed midfielder Ahmed Hassan, who scored twice on his debut as Zamalek crushed Wadi Degla 4-1, miscued two efforts from inside the area.
Zamalek’s best chance fell to Shikabala in the 42ndminute when a shot on the turn by the talented schemer eluded the advancing keeper but a last-ditch interception by Gouna’s Adel cleared the danger.
Gouna punished Zamalek’s slack defending once again two minutes later when Ashour, who departed the club in the close season, was left unopposed to fire a blistering shot from around 36 yards that went into the top corner of the net.
Zamalek grabbed a lifeline six minutes after the interval when a right-wing free kick from Shikabala evaded several defenders and goalkeeper Abdel-Monsef to leave Fathallah with an easy tap-in at the far post.
Gouna appeared exhausted in the second half, allowing Zamalek to lay siege to their area and launch a wave of attacks.
Towering striker Ahmed Gaafar rattled the post with a powerful header on the hour mark but Shikabala atoned for the wasted effort on 82 minutes as Zamalek’s relentless pressure paid dividends.
Gaafar, with his back to the goal, made the most of a Fathallah flick to lay the ball off for Shikabala, who sent a low shot with his weak right foot past the motionless Abdel-Monsef.
Zamalek, motivated by the equalizer, looked on course for a win in the dying minutes but their efforts were hampered by the dismissal of combative midfielder Salah, who picked up a second booking for an off-ball challenge on an opponent.
Both sides eased off in the extra time but Zamalek had the upper hand, thanks to the tireless work of full-backs Emam and Abdel-Shafy.
They were rewarded for their efforts when they combined to give Zamalek a precious winner in 105thminute.