A new-look Ahly side featuring three new signings returned to winning ways with a 1-0 victory over Smouha in the Egyptian Premier League in Alexandria on Tuesday.
A first-half penalty from Tunisian left-back Ali Maaloul was enough to give Ahly the full three points after they drew 2-2 with Dakhleya and slumped to a bitter 2-1 defeat by Pyramids FC in their previous two matches.
Smouha played with 10 men for more than 15 minutes after central defender Mahmoud Ezzat received a straight red card for a last-man foul on on-loan winger Ramadan Sobhi.
Ahly moved up to third with 27 points, 14 points behind leaders and arch-rivals Zamalek who played two matches more.
Smouha's poor run of form leaves them eighth on 23 points.
Ahly's new coach Martin Lasarte enjoyed his first win of the helm, after his debut was spoiled by Pyramids last Friday. The Uruguayan fielded three new recruits in Sobhi, midfielder Mohamed Mahmoud and Angolan winger Geraldo.
The Red Devils appeared lively in the first half, with Geraldo causing menace down the right with his tireless moves and Sobhi also unsettling the defence with his physical presence and neat passes down the left.
Smouha had the first chance though when a mix-up between Maaloul and keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi allowed Hossam Hassan to lob the ball goalwards, only for Malian defender Salif Coulibaly to clear it before it goes in.
But it was Smouha's only sight of goal, with Ahly gaining control to deservedly go ahead after 18 minutes when the referee pointed to the spot when an innocuous cross touched the flailing arm of Ahmed Sobhi.
Maaloul's powerful shot broke the deadlock and Sobhi, who joined on loan from English side Huddersfield, could have made it 2-0 a few minutes later but his sliding effort was smothered by the keeper after a fine one-two.
Geraldo and Mohamed Mahmoud were taken off after the break, with Ahly's rhythm clearly affected after they were substituted.
A slow second half was only brought to life in the 72nd minute when Ezzat was dismissed after being robbed by Sobhi.
Despite their numerical advantage, Ahly could not kill off the game with a second goal but they will still be content to return to winning ways as they aim to keep their league hopes alive.
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