Youngster Mohamed Ibrahim scored a superb goal and laid on another in a two-minute second-half spell to help Zamalek to a 2-0 victory over challengers Ismaily that extended their flying Egyptian Premier League start to eight consecutive wins.
The 21-year-old, who played in Egypt’s 2-1 victory over Zimbabwe in a World Cup qualifier earlier this week, set up Ahmed Gaafar for Zamalek’s opener two minutes past the hour mark before finding the net himself with a piledriver two minutes later.
Ibrahim took his league tally to three goals, one behind leading scorer Bassem Morsi of Petrojet.
Group B runaway leaders Zamalek have maximum 24 points from eight matches, six clear of second-placed Ismaily who had to do without several key players, including midfielder Amr El-Sulaya, due to injuries.
Zamalek are one victory short of equalling a club record for the best league start, having recorded nine straight wins in the 2003-04 season, which marked their last league triumph.
They next face Vita Club of the DR Congo in the second leg of the African Champions League round of 32 where they will be looking to defend a 1-0 first-leg advantage.
Ismaily are also preparing for a regional game against Algeria’s USM Alger in the Arab Cup semis on Tuesday, few days before they fly to Madagascar for the second leg of their Confederation Cup round of 32 clash with Terrible CO, whom they defeated 2-0 in Cairo 17 March.
An exciting end-to-end first half saw both sides come close to taking their lead in a fast-paced affair.
The strikers of both sides, Ismaily’s Ndubuisi Godwin and Zamalek’s Gaafar, were peripheral figures before the break, making way for onrushing midfielders to create goal-scoring opportunities.
Zamalek’s Mohamed Abdel-Shafy, a natural left-back who has been given an advanced role this season, could have put his side ahead after 10 minutes but was denied by Ismaily keeper Mohamed Sobhi in a one-on-one.
The hosts had the better possession but Ismaily were dangerous on the break, thanks to some darting runs from Egyptian international midfielder Ahmed Khairy who could have scored on a couple of occasions.
Khairy was sent clean through by a clever pass from winger Omar Gamal after 29 minutes but his attempted lob went over the bar. Two minutes later, he sidestepped his challenger on the edge of the area and sent a swerving shot that forced a superb save from keeper Abdel-Wahed El-Sayed.
Ibrahim stole the limelight with a virtuoso display in the second half, leaving Ismaily’s defenders chasing shadows with his catchy feints.
He helped set up Zamalek’s opener in the 62nd minute when he skipped past defender Karim Mosaad on the right, ran to the byline and crossed low for Gaafar to side-foot home from close range.
Ibrahim was rewarded for his efforts three minutes later when he gathered a loose ball in the area following a poor headed clearance to fire an angled shot that left Sobhi with no chance.
Ismaily had two penalty claims waved away by the referee in the latter stages as Zamalek held on for another win to maintain their splendid run.