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Ahly waste two penalties to draw 2-2 with Ittihad in dramatic league game

Hatem Maher , Sunday 30 Oct 2016
File photo of Egyptian Premier League holders Ahly (Ahram)
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Views: 1988

Holders Ahly were held to a draw for the second successive Egyptian Premier League game, squandering a slew of clear-cut chances and two penalties in a 2-2 stalemate with Ittihad of Alexandria in Cairo on Sunday.

The game also featured some breathtaking goals, including an opener from Ahly winger Walid Soliman after four minutes and an acrobatic effort from the Red Devils' Nigerian forward Junior Ajayi nine minutes past the hour mark.

Ittihad striker Khaled Qamar initially made it 1-1 shortly after the interval and Kabongo Kasongo finished off a counter attack to give his side a surprise lead before Ajayi scored to help Ahly avoid a first league defeat in seven matches.

Ahly playmaker Abdallah El-Said had a penalty saved when his side were leading 1-0 and substitute Moemen Zakareya struck the post from the spot in stoppage time in a dramatic encounter.

The Cairo giants, who were held to a 0-0 draw by Petrojet in their previous match, are still on top of the table with 17 points, two ahead of second-placed Maqassa who have a game in hand. Ittihad moved to the fourth spot on 13 points.

Zamalek, Ahly's perennial rivals, only played two matches after having four games rescheduled because of their African Champions League campaign, in which they reached the final before losing to South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns. They meet ENPPI in their third league game on Monday.

Delightful shot

Soliman put Ahly in front with a delightful swerving shot from 25 metres that left the keeper with no chance and the hosts could have put the result beyond doubt before the break but they were guilty of some glaring misses.

Winger Karim Walid, nicknamed Nedved after the former Czech Republic star, had an angled shot blocked by Ittihad's superb keeper Mahmoud El-Sayed after he broke clear of the porous defence and Abdallah El-Said had a first-timer denied by the bar in the first 20 minutes.

Despite being pegged back by a wave after wave of Ahly attacks, Ittihad still looked dangerous on the break as forward Mohamed Salem was thwarted by keeper Sherif Ekramy in a one-on-one situation four minutes before the break.

The second half was even more exciting, with Ahly awarded a penalty one minute after the restart after Walid was tripped in the area. Set pieces specialist El-Said stepped up but El-Sayed dived the right way to smother his shot.

Ahly paid for the miss on 50 minutes when a curling free-kick from Nour El-Sayed struck the bar and fell to Qamar, who tricked his challenger with a catchy feint and sent a low shot that deflected off Ahmed Fathi to wrong-foot Ekramy.

A breakaway allowed Ittihad to go in front on 68 minutes when Nour El-Sayed released Kasongo and the Congolese outpaced two central defenders to rifle home.

Ittihad's celebrations were short-lived, however, with Ajayi restoring parity one minute later in superb fashion. He chested a pass in the area, turned and sent a bicycle kick past the despairing hands of the keeper.

Ahly piled on pressure in the latter stages and wasted a host of chances, bombarding Ittihad's goal until they were given another penalty in the third minute of stoppage time after a defender needlessly kicked out at substitute Amr Gamal.

Zakareya's low shot struck the post and Ahmed Fathi skied the rebound high over as Ittihad breathed a sigh of relief.

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