CAIRO: A depleted Ismaili side joined Petrojet and Ahly at the top with a 1-0 away victory over 10-man Zamalek, who slumped to their third defeat in six Egyptian Premier League games on Tuesday.
Midfielder Amr Al-Sulaya scored the winner on 72 minutes as Zamalek, who last beat Ismaili in September 2006, were made to pay for the first-half dismissal of sweeper Hani Saied.
It is the second successive defeat for the Cairo giants under new coach Henri Michel, who is yet to stamp his mark after replacing Swiss Michel Decastel.
On the other hand, last season s runners-up Ismaili continued their revival under Emad Soliman, who took over at the club following the sacking of Nebojsa Vuckovic.
They are now level on 11 points with Petrojet and Ahly after making light of the absence of several key players, including influential playmaker Abdullah Saied.
Leaders and defending champions Ahly can restore their three-point advantage at the top if they beat Asyut Petroleum on Wednesday.
Zamalek, who haven t won the league title since 2004, are seventh in the table with seven points.
Chances were few and far between in the first half. Zamalek s talented playmaker Mahmdoud “Shikabala Abdel-Razeq hardly made an impact while Ismaili lacked their usual rhythm.
Ismaili s sole goal-scoring opportunity fell to Abdullah Shahat, who raced clear of Zamalek defense before being felled by Saied after 28 minutes.
Saied received a straight red card for the last-man foul and Ismaili right-back Ahmed Sedik was unlucky to see his fierce shot from the ensuing free kick strike the bar.
Ismaili s numerical advantage helped them dominate the second period.
They almost broke the deadlock five minutes after the restart when a deflected shot found the unmarked Ahmed Samir Farag inside the area but Abdel-Monsef rushed out of his goal to block his effort.
Zamalek also squandered a golden opportunity shortly after when Amr Zaki s pass evaded an Ismaili defender and fell to Shikabala, whose close-range effort was thwarted by Egypt keeper Essam Al-Hadari.
A poor reaction from Abdel-Monsef allowed Ismaili to go ahead in the 72nd minute.
Defensive midfielder Al-Sulaya met a lay-off with a low shot into the bottom corner as Abdel-Monsef s late dive failed to save the day.
The introduction of Ismaili s natural right-back Ahmed Al-Gamal, who played as a playmaker, added further impetus.
The Dervishes skipper Mohamed Hommos was also on mesmerizing form, creating some clear-cut opportunities for his teammates in the dying minutes.
Zamalek players were once again booed off the pitch by their own fans, who flooded Military Academy Stadium but their efforts to cheer up the team were to no avail.
Shikabala was also involved in a heated exchange with a section of the crowd following the final whistle.