File photo of an Egyptian Premier League game between Zamalek and Wadi Degla (Photo: Al-Ahram)
A gutsy Wadi Degla side snapped Zamalek's three-match winning run after holding their illustrious opponents to a 1-1 draw in the Egyptian Premier League on Tuesday.
Degla fell behind to a powerful strike from Zamalek striker Mostafa Mohamed on the quarter-hour mark but still produced a brilliant display that belies their 12th-place rank in the table.
They leveled the score three minutes before halftime, thanks to a volley from Ahmed Said, and were unlucky not to snatch a win in a second half they almost completely dominated.
The possession-based football orchestrated by Degla's Greek coach Takis Gonias looks to be finally working after a poor start to the season.
Zamalek's mini-revival came to an end as they lie third in the table with 25 points, a massive 11 behind leaders and arch rivals Ahly, who still have a game in hand.
Given the big gap, Zamalek's realistic hope lies in finishing second and earning an African Champions League spot. They are seven points behind surprise package and second-placed Arab Contractors, who played two matches more.
Mostafa Mohamed opened the scoring after 15 minutes in style, his right-foot piledriver nestling into the top corner of the net after Degla were robbed in midfield.
Zamalek needlessly eased off after taking an early lead, allowing a typical adventurous Degla side to pour forward en masse.
Degla had a valid penalty claim waved away by the referee when Zamalek defender Mahmoud Hamdi appeared to block a cross with a flailing arm.
But they got the equaliser they deserved in the 42nd minute when Said popped up unmarked at the far post to volley home a lofted pass.
Degla laid siege to Zamalek's area for most of the second half, with Tunisian forward Rafik Kabou guilty of wasting two easy chances.
He broke clear on 49 minutes following a defence-splitting pass from his mis-hit effort was thwarted by keeper Mohamed Abou-Gabal and then failed to connect with a low cross with the goal at his mercy shortly after.
Zamalek's only chance fell to out-of-sorts winger Mohamed Ounajem, the Moroccan blasting high over from a rebound.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)