Egyptian giants Ahly recovered from a poor start to their African Champions League group-stage campaign with a convincing 3-0 victory over Botswana's Township Rollers to give new coach Patrice Carteron a winning start in Alexandria on Tuesday.
Ahly's leading marksman Walid Azaro, who was on the brink of sealing a Chinese move in the summer only for the deal to fall through at the last minute, broke the deadlock in the first half with a deft finish.
The Red Devils completely outplayed their unfancied opponents in the second half, scoring two more goals through a penalty from Tunisian left-back Ali Maaloul and a header from substitute Islam Mohareb and wasting some goal-scoring chances which could have given them a more comprehensive win.
Carteron's tenure got off to a fine start and Ahly's display could go some way to assuring their disgruntled supporters that the team can still claim a record-extending ninth Champions League triumph and maintain their domestic supremacy despite a disappointing end to last season.
Although the Red Devils won the league title for a third straight time last term, they exited the Egypt Cup at the hands of a modest side and could only claim one point from their opening two games in Group A of the Champions League, drawing 0-0 with Tunisia's Esperance and suffering a shock 2-0 loss at Uganda's Kampala City.
But they now moved second in the group with four points, three behind leaders Esperance who came from two goals down to record an impressive 3-2 win over Kampala at home. Kampala and Township Rollers have three points each.
Ahly initially struggled to break down Township, who looked composed in the early stages and restricted their mighty opponents to some half-chances, including a volley from Walid Soliman which was easily collected by the keeper.
Lively winger Soliman went close with a curling free kick on 27 minutes before Azaro ended Township's resistance two minutes later with a trademark poacher strike.
He controlled an inviting diagonal cross from Nigerian winger Junior Ajayi with his left foot before firing home with his right.
With Township growing bolder after the break in a bid to restore parity, Ahly were gifted acres of space and were guilty of spurning some clear-cut chances.
Winger Moemen Zakareya, who was disappointing throughout, fired horribly wide with the goal gaping after a cross eluded keeper Mwampole Masule on 54 minutes.
Masule made amends for his mis-timed jump when he produced a brilliant one-handed save to smother a shot from Azaro in the 72nd minute but was powerless to stop Ahly from doubling their advantage three minutes later to end the match as a contest.
Substitute Mido Gaber was felled as he tried to skip past his challenger and the referee immediately pointed to the spot, with Maaloul firing the penalty right into the middle as Masule dived the wrong way.
The Township keeper was at fault for Ahly's third in the 79th minute, with his bad positioning leaving Islam Mohareb with the simplest of tasks to head the ball into an empty net after a cross from the right. A desperate attempt by substitute Ofentse Nato to clear the ball after it crossed the line resulted in an injury and he was stretchered off.
Azaro chipped over Masule after a one-on-one situation in the dying minutes but his effort missed the target. However, Ahly will still be content to bag their first group-stage win.
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