A late penalty from Mohamed Abou-Treika saw off a fighting Zimbabwe outfit and secured a vital win for the Pharaohs
A stoical Zimbabwean defence was finally beaten with an hour on the clock, as Hosni Abd-Rabou blasted a free-kick past Washington Arubi to give the hosts a well-deserved lead.
The visitors did not give up despite continued Egyptian pressure and hit back through an unstoppable volley from Knowledge Musona in the 75th minute.
But their efforts were not rewarded, as Egypt scored a late winner via the penalty spot, with Mohamed Abou-Treika firing home to give the hosts a vital three points in their bid to qualify for Brazil next year.
Egypt gained the opportunity to play in front of home support for the first time since the Port Said disaster in 2012, as the match was watched by 10 000 fans in the 80 00-seater Borg El-Arab Stadium.
Zimbabwe, sitting in last place in Group G, almost stunned the home crowd in the 10th minute when Denver Mukamba beat the offside trap and looked destined to find the opener, but fired his shot into the side netting.
The Pharaohs continued to dominate possession as the first half progressed, but struggled to break down a steely Zimbabwean defence, who focused on unleashing their attackers with a counter-attacking game.
The home side finally fashioned their first real chance 28 minutes in, as Ibrahim provided Mohamed Salah with a defence-splitting pass, but the striker decided to cross instead of going for goal which allowed Zimbabwe’s defenders to clear the ball into safety.
The Pharaoh’s creative attackers continued knocking on the door, with Mohamed Abou-Treika coming close as his free header at the far post thundered into the bar with 35 minutes on the clock.
Zimbabwe’s impermeable defence held firm until half-time, placing the hosts under pressure to secure all three points in the second stanza.
Egypt’s early substitution in the second half displayed their intent to find the back of the net, as they replaced Ibrahim with right-back Ahmed Fathi, which allowed Elmohamady to play in more of an advanced role.
Fathi made an instant impact a minute after coming on, by picking out Abou-Treika with an accurate cross, but the midfielder could not place his header on target.
The Pharaohs continued to lay siege on the wall of Zimbabwean defenders, with the visitors seeking to secure an unlikely point.
The missed chances for the hosts continued as Mohamed Naguib almost found the back of the net in the 63rd, but the defender could not place his header on target after rising unmarked in the box and latching onto a corner kick.
A minute later the deadlock was finally broken as Hosni Abd-Rabou struck a powerful free-kick, which beat Arubi for pace and found the back of the net via the hand of the keeper.
Egypt, determined to find the second and kill off the game, came close via the boot of Abou-Treika and Salah as the visitor’s defensive game fell apart at the seams.
When it seemed destined that Egypt would bury their opponents, Zimbabwe struck back as Knowledge Musona held off the attentions of Mohamed Naguib and blasted a powerful volley past El-Sayed.
The Pharaohs began to attack with gusto and subjected their opponents to wave after wave of attack. Just when it seemed as if Zimbabwe could hold on, the Pharoahs were finally rewarded as Mohamed Salah burst into the box and was cut-down by Augustine Mbara, giving the referee no choice but to point to the penalty spot with 88 minutes on the clock.
Abou-Treika stepped up and fired in a low shot to win the game for the home side, which paves the way for the Pharoah's to continue their 2014 World Cup qualification dream.