Striker Ahmed Abdel-Zaher scored against his former club to help defending champions Ahly claim a late 2-1 victory over Group A leaders ENPPI in the Egyptian Premier League on Sunday.
A header by Abdel-Zaher, who notched up his maiden Ahly goal after joining from ENPPI in January, two minutes from time gave the mediocre Cairo giants a much-needed win after they suffered a stunning 3-0 defeat by Harras El-Hodoud in their previous game.
Ahly, who are still missing some key players, took an early lead via a close-range effort from defensive midfielder Rami Rabeia but Abdallah El-Shahat drew ENPPI level in the 70th minute.
The win lifted Ahly, who made their worst league start since 2003 after slumping to two defeats in their first five matches, to second place in Group A with 12 points, behind leaders ENPPI on goal difference.
El-Hodoud, who were held to a goalless draw by Gouna earlier in the day, lie third on 10 points. The top two teams in Groups A and B will qualify for the final round, where a mini-league with only home fixtures will be held to determine the winner.
The game came only one day after Ahly's hardcore football fans vented their anger at the acquittals of seven security officials in the infamous Port Said disaster trial by torching the premises of the Egyptian Football Association (EFA), which insisted the league would not be cancelled despite threats of more violence from the ardent group of supporters.
Rabeia opened the scoring after eight minutes, sending a low shot home from inside the area after his attempted header struck a defender.
Playmaker Abdallah El-Said, who was one of two attacking midfielders supporting ineffective strikers El-Sayed Hamdi and Ahmed Abdel-Zaher, almost doubled the lead five minutes later but his fierce right-foot shot hit the woodwork after a darting run.
Ahly struggled to create clear-cut chances, at times gifting ENPPI possession but their opponents were equally inefficient in the final third.
The Red Devils’ coach Hossam El-Badry introduced natural right-back Ahmed Sedik as a left winger in the second half, a tactical move that did not pay off as the hosts still found it difficult to carve out openings.
ENPPI had some tame efforts before netting the equaliser on 70 minutes when El-Shahat escaped his marker to run onto a deft through pass from playmaker Abdel-Salam Nagah and drill home with aplomb from a tight angle.
They could have gone ahead with six minutes remaining when a shot by Mahmoud Kahraba on the turn went just wide.
However, Ahly had the last word when substitute Dominique Da Silva stole possession from an opponent on the left before whipping in a cross for the unmarked Abdel-Zaher to send a glancing header past ENPPI keeper Mohamed Abdel-Monsef.
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