CAIRO: Mostafa Gaafar notched home late in the second-half to help Zamalek register a hard-fought 3-2 home victory over Harras Al-Hodoud in a thrilling Egyptian League match on Tuesday.
Al-Hodoud came from a two-goal deficit to level the score through Mohamed Halim and Hani Saied after Tarek Al-Sayed and Youssef Hamdi put Zamalek initially ahead.
Gaafar, who came off the bench in the second-period, sealed the precious win for Zamalek one minute from time to boost his side s morale ahead of the anticipating showdown against arch-rivals Ahly on Saturday.
The Cairo side made up for their disappointing 2-0 loss at the hands of Masri last week.
The victory put Zamalek in third place of the league table with 29 points, two adrift of second-placed Ismaili and six behind leaders Ahly.
Caretaker manager Mahmoud Saad was in charge of Zamalek in the match until French coach Henri Michel, who was officially unveiled earlier on Tuesday, takes over.
Al-Hodoud were almost ahead in the 11th minute from a double threat on Zamalek keeper Abdul-Wahed Al-Sayed, who made his first competitive action in eight months after recovering from injury.
Midfielder Abdul-Salam Nagah went face-to-face with the keeper after a brilliant give-and-go with Abdul-Rahman Farouk but Al-Sayed blocked his effort.
The ball went into the path of Ahmed Abdul-Ghani, whose shot was cleared off the line by Zamalek s defender Tamer Abdul-Wahab.
However, it was Zamalek who broke the deadlock in the 27th minute when Ghanaian playmaker Awuley Quaye Junior sent a neat short pass to the onrushing Al-Sayed who superbly curled a stunning shot into the back of the net past Al-Hodoud s advancing keeper Kameni Mathurin.
Hamdi doubled the lead six minutes later after a superb individual effort when he raced through Al-Hodoud s midfield, outpaced defender Mahmoud Abdul-Hamid and hit a low drive into the bottom corner.
Unmarked Halim pulled one back in the 37th minute after he capitalized on a goal-mouth scramble and some poor defending to head home from close range.
In the second-half Al-Hodoud dominated in terms of possession but failed to pose a threat to Zamalek until the last ten minutes.
Junior, who had much impact on Zamalek s attacking attempts, was surprisingly replaced by midfielder Moetazbellah Mohamed Eno and Hazem Emam was introduced instead of out-of-form Abdul-Halim Ali.
Al-Sayed s blunder seven minutes from time allowed Saied to stun the home crowd and equalize for the visitors.
Amr Al-Dali sent a weak free-kick that eluded Al-Sayed, hit the post and moved across the line before Saied s follow-up ensured its position in the net.
One minute before the final whistle, Emam s brilliant back-heel found Eino on the edge of the area before he fired a powerful drive that deflected off a defender and went into the path of Gaafar who slotted home into the empty net to secure a dramatic win for Zamalek.