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Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Egypt's Ahly slump to 2nd straight Champions League loss after reverse in Kinshasa

Hatem Maher , Saturday 9 Mar 2019
Ahly
Ahly lose 1-0 to Vita Club in their penultimate group stage game of the African Champions League (Ahram)
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Egypt's Ahly failed to put to bed their qualification for the African Champions League quarters after suffering a late 1-0 defeat at DR Congo's Vita Club on Saturday, their second straight reverse in the competition.

Ahly, the record Champions League winners with eight titles under their belt, were undone by a deflected shot from Tuisila Kisinda  six minutes from time for their second successive defeat on the road, having lost 1-0 to Tanzania's Simba last month.

They were punished for a feeble display that stands in stark contrast to their vivid attacking performances in the Egyptian Premier League, which helped them close the gap on leaders Zamalek to a mere point, although the latter have a game in hand.

Despite the defeat in their penultimate Group D match, Ahly remained leaders with seven points, on level with second-placed Vita Club who revived their qualification hopes.

Simba, third with six points, take on Algeria's JS Saoura (five points) in the other group match later in the day.

Ahly, who lost in the final the past two seasons, need to beat Saoura at home in their final group-stage encounter to ensure their progress to the knockout phase.

Evenly-balanced

Clear-cut chances were scarce in an evenly-balanced first half, with Ahly trying to send through passes behind Vita Club's central defence and the visitors launching repeated attacks down the flanks.

Ahly were unfortunate to lose their regular keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi, who was taken off on 24 minutes after apparently spraining his ankle, with third-choice goalie Ali Lotfi replacing him due to the injury of Sherif Ekramy.

The only real chance before the break fell to Vita Club on the stroke of halftime as they wasted a near-certain goal.

A cross was whipped in to the far post where it was flicked across the face of the goal to Jean-Marc Makusu, who headed against the bar with the goal gaping.

Ahly responded with another goal-scoring opportunity of their own early into the second half but a brilliant double-save from goalkeeper Nelson Lukong thwarted them.

He first palmed a free header from Nigerian forward Junior Ajayi before pulling off a superb reflex save to keep out a follow-up effort from midfielder Karim Walid.

At the other end, Vita Club kept probing Ahly's defence, which showed signs of buckling under pressure.

The breakthrough came in the 84th minute, Kisinda's shot from the edge of the area deflecting off a sliding Mohamed Hani and looping over the stranded keeper and into the net.

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

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