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Thursday, 20 February 2020

Ahly crowned Egyptian Premier League champions

Ahly claimed their 39th Egyptian league title following a 2-2 draw with rivals and second-placed Maqassa as their domestic dominance endures

Omar Zaazou , Tuesday 30 May 2017
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Ahly have been crowned 2016/2017 Egyptian League champions with four matches to spare after playing out a 2-2 draw with rivals and second-placed Maqassa at Suez's Army Stadium on Monday.

Going into the game needing just a single point to formally clinch their 39th league title, defending champions Ahly managed to take a two-goal lead through Junior Ajayi and Walid Soliman, with both striking either side of the interval.

Maqassa, however, gave the limited number of Ahly fans available in the stands some hard time with two qucik second-half goals via Ahmed El-Sheikh and John Antwi, who both happen to be on loan from the Reds.    

Ahly kept their 12-point lead intact at the top of the table, an unassailable lead with just four matches remaining given the Cairo giants' better head-to-head record against Maqassa, who lost 1-0 to their rivals in the reverse fixture.

The Red Devils have won their 10th title in the past 11seasons, conceding just nine goals in 30 unbeaten games.

Maqassa dominate, Ahly score  

Maqassa were the better side in the opening stages, with Ahly manager Hossam El-Badry preferring to surrender possession instead of pressing intensely high up as he used to do.

The visitors, however, failed to threaten their opponents despite being in control until a defensive blunder from winger Paulin Voavy gifted Ahly the lead in the 23rd minute.

Under no pressure, the Malagasy played an ill-fated pass towards the Nigerian forward inside the area, with the Ahly striker easiily slotting past the keeper for the opener.    

Maqassa playmaker El-Sheikh could have equalised minutes later if it was not for keeper Sherif Ekramy, who tipped over the former's free kick over the bar.

On the other end, Ahly's lone strriker Ajayi came close to bagging his personal brace three minutes past the hour mark, when he latched onto a long Ekramy goal-kick before narrowly missing the target.

Antwi then replied with a header that missed the target from inside the area following a Voavy cross from the right, before wasting a sitter after going one on one with Ekramy, only to see his effort go wide of the post.  

Quick Maqassa goals

The Ahly keeper came to his side's rescue early after the break when he tipped over a miscued Amr El-Sulaya clearance with Maqassa forcing an intense spell of pressure.

Soliman then doubled Ahly's advantage on the rebound following some good work by Ajayi having overcome three Maqassa defenders getting into the area before being eventually thwarted by the keeper.

With Ahly 2-0 up, their faithful must have thought Maqassa were unlikely now to launch a comeback, but two quick goals from El-Sheikh and Antwi within three minutes kept them waiting till the end.

A penalty awarded to the Fayoum-based side after center-back Saad Samir had been adjudged by the ref to have handled the ball inside the area was successfully converted by El-Sheikh in the 71st minute, having sent Ekramy the wrong way.

Antwi then restored parity after running onto a precise through ball from Voavy to slide past the advancing Ekramy, whose decision to come out of goal proved unsuccessful.

Ahly held onto the draw in the final minutes of the game, with Maqassa looking to push forward in search of a third goal that never came, as the Cairo side were officially crowned league champions.   

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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