Ahly's already slim hopes of retaining their Egyptian Premier League title took a fresh blow when keeper Ahmed Saad produced a sensational display to help Haras El-Hodoud claim a 1-0 victory on Sunday.
The Red Devils, league champions for the past eight seasons, had to do without six players, with Walid Soliman, Moemen Zakareya, Mahmoud Trezeguet, Sabri Rahil, Hussein El-Sayed all ruled out with injuries. Defender Saad Samir is suspended.
Although in-form midfielder Abdallah El-Said, striker Emad Meteb and others provided the needed firepower upfront, they could not find a way past an inspired Saad who stole the show with a series of outstanding saves.
It is the first defeat for Ahly under coach Fathi Mabrouk, who succeeded Spaniard Juan Carlos Garrido early in May. The defeat left Ahly third in the table with 55 points, eight adrift of leaders Zamalek who have two games in hand.
Haras El-Hodoud had the first sight of goal as early as the second minute when Ali Affifi shot from just outside the box, only to be denied by the post.
Shortly after, Affifi had a second chance after intercepting a low cross in the area but his shot was parried by Ahly's keeper Sherif Ekrami.
After surviving that early threat, Ahly regained their composure and pushed their visitors back into their half.
El-Hodoud keeper Ahmed Saad produced a heroic performance to frustrate Ahly's players who couldn't beat him. He denied Abdallah El-Said twice from close range and deflected a narrow attempt from striker Emad Meteab for a corner.
Against the run of play, winger Ahmed Sabri, who tirelessly ran up and down the right flank, delivered a low cross inside the six yards that was awfully cleared by Ahly's defenders only to fall in the path of Ahmed Mekki who nudged it in an empty net.
Ahly tightened their grip on the game and El-Said curled a 20-yard free kick but again Saad was at full stretch to deny him by the tips of his fingers.
Coach Fathi Mabrouk brought in Nigerian striker Peter Ebimobowei for midfielder Mohamed Rezk to switch to a 4-4-2 formation and press their rivals harder.
After the interval, the game was only heading in one direction: towards El-Hodoud's goal. The latter pulled back into their final third, making it hard for Ahly players to carve out openings.
Second-half substitute Karim Bambou met a precise deep cross from El-Said but his header couldn't beat Saad.
Ahly were reduced to 10 men as skipper Hossam Ghaly received his marching orders after a furious protest against referee Mohamed Farouk following a clumsy foul.
Unbeatable tonight, Saad denied a header from Ebimobowei and a rocketing shot from El-Said to hand his team a valuable victory.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)