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Al Ahly 2-1 AC Léopards: Ekramy heroics secure three valuable points in El-Gouna
Al Ahly secured a 2-1 home victory against Congolese side AC Léopards in the CAF Champions League with Ultras Ahlawy present in the stands in El-Gouna on Saturday.
Both teams headed into the game with four points from their three previous Group A fixtures. Léopards were ahead of Al-Ahly on goal difference, however, Al-Ahly managed to snatch three valuable points from their previous meeting – two weeks ago in Congo.
Al-Ahly’s starting line-up: Sherif Ekramy; Ahmed Fathi, Wael Gomaa, Mohamed Naguib, Sayed Moawad; Hossam Ashour, Rami Rabia; Abdullah El-Said, Mohamed Abou-Treika, Walid Soliman; El-Sayed Hamdy.
Léopards’ starting line-up: Ngome; Miangounina, Boris, Moubhio, Herman; Kaliama, Prestony, Chardin, Drame; Mozita, N’guelye.
The kick-off was delayed for 30 minutes due to some unrest among the 3,000 Al-Ahly fans who controversially attended the game as the match was supposed to be played behind closed doors.
Al-Ahly started the game by piling pressure on Léopards and in the 3rd minute Soliman sent a beautiful through ball to Hamdy whose shot was well off target. Four minutes later, Abdullah El-Said dribbled past Herman at the edge of Léopards’ box; however, his shot was also off target. The game retained its status quo: Al-Ahly keeping possession creating numerous of chances while Léopards were defending with 10 men behind the ball, and using their lethal counter-attacks going forward.
In the 37th minute, Ahmed Fathi sent a 40-yard diagonal pass to El-Said whom, from the left flank, cut inside and sent a powerful low shot to score Al-Ahly’s first goal of the game.
Three minutes later, Ashour mistimed a tackle in his box and brought down Kaliama to concede a penalty. However, Ekramy jumped brilliantly to his right to save Ulrich Nzamba’s penalty and maintain Al-Ahly’s lead, which remained the same for the remainder of the first-half.
The second-half started completely opposite to the first one, as AC Léopards were controlling the majority of possession and Mohamed Youssef, Al-Ahly’s coach, kept his players behind the ball looking for counter-attacks.
After 15 minutes of the 2nd half, Ahmed Abdel-Zaher replaced El-Sayed Hamdy upfront, while Cesar was replaced by Eric for Leopard.
On the hour mark, Abou-Treika dribbled past the keeper but shot wide after receiving a brilliant through pass from El-Said. Seven minutes later, Soliman latched onto a pass from Treika on the edge of the box before cutting inside and sending a brilliant curler into the keeper’s top right corner to double Ahly’s lead.
Abou-Treika was sent in one-on-one against Léopards’ goalkeeper minutes later, before slipping awkwardly to sum up his bad day. With 10 minutes to go, Léopards striker Mozita was replaced by Bazula, while Shehab replaced Soliman as Mohamed Youssef looked to retain his lead.
In the 83rd minute, Moawad played Bazula onside, who received the ball in the box from Cesar and finished powerfully to score Léopards’ first of the game. The Congolese side kept piling the pressure on Al-Ahly for the last 10 minutes, as Ekramy made a brilliant low save in the 93rd minute to secure the three points for his boyhood club.
With this 2-1 win, Al-Ahly adds three crucial points to their tally, reaching 7 points from 4 games to equal their points tally with the group leaders, Orlando Pirates, who play tomorrow September 1st against Al-Ahly’s arch rivals, Zamalek SC.