Algerian playmaker Amir Sayoud made the most of a rare start to help Ahly claim a 1-0 home victory over Gouna, which took them to within four points of Egyptian Premier League leaders Zamalek.
The 20-year-old set up Ahly striker Osama Hosni’s sole goal after seven minutes and caused constant menace to Gouna’s backline with some brilliant individual efforts.
The Cairo giants squandered a host of clear-cut chances to put the result beyond doubt, but held onto their lead to atone for last week’s disappointing goalless draw with Masry.
Gouna finished with ten men after defender Mohamed El-Zayat was sent off with two minutes remaining for a last-man foul on an opponent.
Ahly, who are eyeing a seventh consecutive league crown, leapfrogged Ismaily into second place with 36 points, four behind arch-rivals Zamalek who were held to a 0-0 draw by Ismaily on Monday.
Inspired by a lively display from Sayoud, who was given a rare start due to the absence of key duo Mohamed Abou-Treika and Mohamed Barakat, Ahly laid siege to Gouna’s area from the very beginning.
Sayoud could have opened the scoring as early as the fourth minute when a shot from Hosni was parried by the keeper into his path, but his left-foot shot from eight yards missed the target.
He made amends three minutes later with a superb pass that set up Hosni for Ahly’s opener.
His deft through-pass with the outside of his left foot eluded Gouna’s defence and found Hosni, who broke clear and notched home with aplomb despite the keeper’s desperate attempt to block his effort.
He almost created another goal at 25 minutes when he released Mohamed "Gedo" Nagy after a neat one-two, but the Egypt forward’s attempted lob went over the bar.
Gouna were on the back foot but still posed threats with their breakaway efforts, one by Aarafa El-Sayed needing a fine save from Ahly keeper Ahmed Adel.
Sayoud remained Ahly’s lethal weapon in the second half thanks to his dribbling skills which kept Gouna's defenders on their toes.
He wasted another opportunity to double the Red Devils’ advantage four minutes after the restart when he side-stepped a challenger to go clear on goal and his low shot went just wide of the post.
Gouna players probably breathed a sigh of relief after Ahly coach Manuel Jose surprisingly opted to substitute the talented playmaker, introducing holding midfielder Moataz Eno in his place in the 70th minute.
He was given a standing ovation by Ahly’s faithful on his way to the dugout.
Ahly eased off following the substitution, despite the energetic display of Mauritania striker Dominique Da Silva, who came off the bench to replace the sluggish Hosni.
Gouna had El-Zayat sent off two minutes from time for bringing down Da Silva after the latter was sent clean through.