Zamalek earned a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Dakhleya to condemn them to relegation and maintain their pursuit of the Egyptian Premier League title after an exciting match in Cairo on Sunday.
A low free kick from winger Mahmoud Kahraba, his 11thgoal of the season, gave Zamalek a first-half lead but they paid the price for some wasted chances when Ibrahim Aboul-Yazid drew Dakhleya level just past the hour mark after a floated free kick caused mayhem in the area.
Deep-lying forward Youssef Ibrahim restored Zamalek’s advantage but Dakhleya could have secured a share of spoils in a frantic ending.
With 10 minutes remaining, Dakhleya were awarded a penalty after Bahaa Magdi committed a last-man foul on an opponent, with the left-back receiving his marching orders after getting a second yellow card.
However, stand-in goalkeeper Emad El-Sayed dived the right way to block Aboul-Yazid’s spot kick but was injured after saving a long-range shot a few minutes later.
El-Sayed was supposed to play in Zamalek’s Confederation Cup final first-leg at Morocco’s RS Berkane next Sunday as first-choice goalie Mahmoud Gennesh is suspended, but the team could now play with one goalkeeper in Omar Salah.
Zamalek survived a Dakhleya onslaught with 10 men in the dying minutes to claim a precious win that moved them up to second with 66 points, four behind leaders Ahly who played a game more.
Dakhleya, second from bottom on 27 points, became the second team to be relegated after Nogoom.
Zamalek went ahead after 19 minutes when Kahraba caught keeper Mohamed Sobhi off-guard after arrowing a low free kick into the bottom corner, with the experienced goalie too slow to react.
Dakhleya had a chance to equalize seven minutes later, a slip by rookie defender Mohamed Abdel-Salam allowing Anousa Isha to break clear, only to blast his effort high over the bar.
An adventurous approach by Dakhleya, who had no option but to win to keep alive their hopes of avoiding relegation, allowed Zamalek to create chances at will, but they were largely profligate.
Dakhleya equalized in the 61st minute when Abdel-Salam failed to clear a free kick and Aboul-Yazid pounced to fire home after a goalmouth scramble.
But Youssef Ibrahim, who was otherwise a peripheral figure, put Zamalek ahead again 12 minutes later when he was found unmarked by a pinpoint cross from substitute Mohamed Ibrahim to neatly control it and beat Sobhi at the near post with a left-foot volley.
El-Sayed came to Zamalek’s rescue after saving the penalty as Zamalek breathed a sigh of relief to maintain their hopes of winning their first league title since 2015.