Ali Maaloul made up for a wasted penalty to strike at the death and give Ahly a valuable 2-1 victory over Talae El-Gaish as they moved joint top of the Egyptian Premier League on Wednesday.
The in-form Tunisian international found the bottom corner of the net with a swerving low shot from 30 meters that left keeper Mohamed Bassam stranded to the spot, ending the resistance of El-Gaish who played with ten men for more than 15 minutes after Talla N'Diaye was sent off for two bookable offences.
He earlier had a weak penalty saved by Bassam as Ahly piled on relentless pressure after another spot-kick from Eslam Gamal ten minutes in the second period cancelled out Walid Azaro's first-half opener.
The Red Devils, who are chasing a fourth successive title, have 64 points, on level with Pyramids FC who played two matches more. Zamalek, who played a game less than Ahly, lie third on 60 points.
El-Gaish dropped to the 13th place with 34 points.
Ahly were in control from the outset, launching waves of attacks against a deep defence that struggled to deal with astute passes from Saleh Gomaa, the forgotten playmaker who was recently given a new lease of life.
Gomaa's free kick from the left caught Bassam napping to strike the woodwork after 25 minutes and a fizzing shot from Azaro went just wide from the edge of the area nine minutes later.
Angolan winger Geraldo was denied a by a goal-line clearance from Gaish defender Ahmed Samir on 42 minutes but Azaro made amends on the stroke of halftime to give Ahly a deserved lead.
Geraldo ran onto a precise long ball from Saleh and, helped by a needless rush out from Bassam, headed the ball into the path of Azaro who slotted into an empty net.
However, Geraldo was replaced in the second half after sustaining a facial injury following a clash with Bassam.
The second half was more exciting, with Gaish leveling the score in the 55th minute as defender Gamal converted from the spot after Ayman Ashraf clumsily felled striker Mostafa Mohamed.
Ahly had a golden chance to restore their advantage 10 minutes later when the referee pointed to the spot after N'Diaye pushed right-back Ahmed Fathi in an aerial challenge.
However, Maaloul's weak spot kick was easily collected by Bassam.
N'Diaye was dismissed in the 73rd minute after an off-ball tussle with Gomaa and Ahly made the most of their numerical advantage to snatch the win.
One minute from time, Maaloul's effort left Bassam motionless as Ahly celebrated a hard-earned win.
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