African giants Zamalek of Egypt failed to reach the Total CAF Champions League quarter-finals Saturday, despite scoring four goals in 25 minutes to hammer Teungueth of Senegal 4-1 in Cairo.
A bold Group D comeback by the five-time African champions in the final two matchdays ultimately proved futile as Mouloudia Alger of Algeria came from behind to force a 1-1 draw at Esperance of Tunisia and qualify.
The point former title-holders Mouloudia took away from Tunis gave them second place behind Esperance and a last-eight slot for the first time since 1980.
Esperance finished with 11 points, Mouloudia nine, Zamalek eight and Teungueth four.
Zamalek paid dearly for woeful form in the first four matchdays, during which they collected only two points and scored just once.
They had reached the final twice in the past five seasons, losing to Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa in 2016 and fierce rivals Al Ahly of Egypt last year.
The final last-eight place went to Kaizer Chiefs of South Africa, who came from behind twice to draw 2-2 at Horoya of Guinea and squeeze through on head-to-head records.
Recently rehired French coach Patrice Carteron vowed that Zamalek would fight until the final whistle in an attempt to survive the cut after winning at Mouloudia last weekend.
His resurgent team overwhelmed Teungueth in the opening half with defender Mahmoud el Wensh triggering a goal blitz by scoring on 16 minutes.
Recently signed forward Marwan Hamdy scored twice and El Wensh netted again to put Zamalek four goals ahead by half-time and heading for the quarter-finals as Nassim Ben Khalifa had put Esperance in front.
But the half-time joy in the Egyptian dressing room dissipated when Abdenour Belkheir levelled for Mouloudia on 68 minutes in Tunisia.
Zamalek needed four-time champions Esperance to win, but they failed to score again and Mouloudia sneaked through.
In Guinea, previously goal-shy Horoya and Chiefs served up a Group C thriller that ended with the Soweto outfit securing a first quarter-finals appearance after five failed attempts.
Yakhouba Barry put Horoya ahead in first-half stoppage time as his side sought to reach the knockout stage for the third time in four seasons.
Daniel Cardoso levelled from a 67th-minute penalty only for Sekou Camara to give Horoya the lead again almost immediately.
Zimbabwe international Khama Billiat equalised with 14 minutes remaining and a brilliant save from veteran goalkeeper Itumuleng Khune kept Chiefs level.
In the same section, already-qualified Wydad Casablanca of Morocco won 2-0 at home to Petro Luanda of Angola with Walid el Karti and Mohamed Ounajem scoring.
Group winners Simba of Tanzania, Sundowns, Wydad and Esperance will go into one pot for the quarter-finals draw on April 30.
The other pot will include Mouloudia, fellow Algerians Chabab Belouizdad, record nine-time champions Ahly and Chiefs.
Clubs cannot be drawn against the team they met in the group stage, limiting the possible opponents of each to three.
There is no country protection, however, meaning Sundowns and Chiefs could face each other in an all-South African affair.