A sluggish Ahly side bereft of some regulars put in an uninspiring display to settle for a 1-1 draw at Zimbabwe's Platinum on Saturday that did them no favours in their quest to reach the African Champions League quarters.
Ahly, who had a first half to forget, fell behind to a 19th-minute goal from Stanley Ngala as Platinum repeatedly exposed gaps in the visitors' porous backline.
The Red Devils notably improved in the second half following the introduction of winger Mahmoud Kahraba, with lone striker Marwan Mohsen bringing them level six minutes after the restart.
However, Platinum held firm for their first point of Group B after losing their opening three matches.
Ahly moved temporarily top with seven points from four matches in a tight race that is expected to go down to the wire. Tunisia's Etoile Sahel and Sudan's Al-Hilal, who meet later on Saturday, have six points apiece.
The record eight-time winners, who are eyeing their first Champions League crown since 2013, next host Etoile before meeting Al-Hilal away from home in their final group-stage game.
Ahly missed several regulars through injury including key winger Ramadan Sobhi and attacking midfielder Hussein El-Shahat. Veteran playmaker Walid Soliman was also hurt in the warm-up, compounding the team's injury woes.
Platinum, playing under the guidance of new Dutch coach Hendrik Pieter De Jongh, took advantage of gaps behind Tunisian left-back Ali Maaloul to launch repeated raids.
They went ahead from one such move when a right-wing cross found Rainsome Pavari at the far post, with his cross-cum-shot diverted home by Ngala after wrong-footing keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi.
Ahly could not step up a gear in the first half as Platinum easily contained their lethargic forwards.
Kahraba injected much-needed zeal and he could have equalized in the 48th minute when he volleyed over the bar with the goal at his mercy after neatly controlling a wayward defensive clearance on his chest.
But Ahly made amends three minutes later when a low cross from Kahraba found Junior Ajayi unmarked in the area. The Nigerian forward's effort was blocked by the keeper but Mohsen netted home on the rebound after tricking a defender with a superb feint.
Platinum were still dangerous on the break but clear-cut chances were hard to come by. They still kept Ahly at bay to prevent the Egyptians from completing the double over them following their 2-0 win in Cairo last month.
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