Marwan Hamdi (C) scored Zamalek's winner over Wadi Degla (Photo: Ahram)
Zamalek moved within touching distance of a first Egyptian Premier League crown in six years after they eked out a 1-0 win over struggling Wadi Degla on Tuesday to open up a four-point lead on top after challengers Ahly stumbled.
A second-half header from striker Marwan Hamdi, who has yet to establish himself following his arrival last January, earned Zamalek a precious win after they missed several goal-scoring chances in a one-sided affair.
Ahly's bid to win the league for a sixth successive season was dealt a blow after they were held to a 0-0 draw by Talae El-Geish, leaving them with a mammoth task with only three matches left.
Zamalek have 73 points, with Ahly second on 69. The Red Devils can still win the title if they move level on points with Zamalek, given their superior head-to-head record.
The White Knights will secure the title if they win their next two matches against Ceramica Cleopatra and El-Entag El-Harby.
Degla will face an uphill climb to stay in the top flight as they lie second from bottom with 25 points, four adrift of NBE, who still have one game in hand, in the safety zone.
Degla held Zamalek to a 0-0 draw in the reverse league fixture after veteran keeper Mohamed Abdel-Monsef pulled off a string of impressive saves against the club where he made his name more than a decade ago.
He looked capable of doing that again, blocking repeated shots from Zamalek as the Cairo giants mounted pressure from the outset.
Hamdi headed wide with the goal at his mercy following an inviting free kick from experienced winger Mahmoud Shikabala in the 16th minute and winger Ahmed Zizo had a far-post header smothered by Abdel-Monsef.
Zamalek kept up pressure in the second half and Moroccan winger Achraf Bencharki had a goal disallowed by VAR review, with television replays showing that his curling shot had not crossed the line after striking the crossbar.
But Hamdi made amends on 59 points with a fine header that went in off the bar following a teasing cross from Zizo, Zamalek's best performer.
The White Knights wasted further chances towards the end but Hamdi's goal was enough to put them closer to a 13th league triumph and their first since 2005.
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