(Photo courtesy of EFA official twitter account)
Zamalek paid the price for fielding a weakened side against Smouha on Monday, conceding twice in the dying minutes to concede a 3-3 draw.
Congolese striker Kabongo Kasongo put Zamalek in the lead after 18 minutes, but Smouha striker Hossam Hassan became both hero and villain by scoring at both ends in the 36th and 43rd minutes.
Second-half substitute Mostafa Mohamed seemed to have put the points of the game beyond doubt with a fine strike in the 65th minute, but two late headers from Ahmed Hassan Mekki and Hassan at the 88th and 90+2 minutes earned the Alexandrian side a precious draw.
French coach Patrice Carteron fielded a much-changed line-up in order to rest his key players, featuring the likes of Mostafa Mohamed, Mahmoud Alaa and Mohamed Ounajem, in addition to influential pair Ferjani Sassi and Achraf Bencharki, both injured.
Initially, Zamalek seemed off to a good start against a cautious Smouha, who were playing their first game under the helm of new coach Ahmed Sami. The Whites grabbed an early lead when Abdallah Gomaa cut inside from the left-hand side of the area and passed the ball to an unmarked Kasongo in the box, who slid the ball into the net at close range.
The hosts pressed forward and Hossam Hassan grabbed a deserved equaliser after brilliantly dribbling past defender Mahmoud Abdel-Ghani and beating keeper Mohamed Abou Gabal on a third attempt, after seeing his first two efforts pushed away.
However, the former Egypt striker put a header through his own goal from a Mostafa Fathi corner two minutes before the break.
Zamalek went on to tighten their grip on the game, especially after the introduction of key attackers Mostafa Mohamed and Mohamed Ounajem.
Mohamed made Smouha pay for their sloppiness in midfield, scoring the third goal in the 65th minute. Kasongo began the move after intercepting a loose ball in Smouha's half to unleash Ounajem on the right side as the Moroccan squared to Mohamed, who finished brilliantly at the near post.
Carteron gambled even more by bringing in youngsters Hossam Abdel-Megid and Yassin Marei in the final quarter to concede late.
Smouha playmaker Nasser Maher orchestrated his team's comeback, sending a fine cross for Ahmed Hassan Mekki, a former Zamalek striker, to score at the far post and another one deep in injury time to Hassan, who headed the ball over the advanced keeper.
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