Abdallah El-Said's second-half double helped Ahly end a three-match winless run with a 2-0 victory over Petrojet on Wednesday under the watchful eye of new coach Martin Jol, who will lead the team for the first time in Saturday's clash against Maqassa.
Interim coach Abdel-Aziz Abdel-Shafi 'Zizo' will breathe a sigh of relief after Ahly got over three successive draws that slashed their lead over defending champions Zamalek to three points, going six clear at the top before their rivals play El-Entag El-Harby on Thursday.
Dutchman Jol, who watched the game from the stands, looked unsatisfied with a poor first-half display but deep-lying playmaker El-Said converted a penalty and scored another goal in the space of four minutes to put pressure on Zamalek.
Zamalek will be led by new Scottish coach Alex McLeish, one of Jol's former competitors in the English Premier League, when they face El-Entag.
Petrojet's impressive pressing high up the pitch in the first half forced Ahly into many mis-placed passes, with the latter's midfield duo Hossam Ashour and Hossam Ghaly mainly unable to feed the attacking midfielders.
Both sides had two clear-cut chances each to open the scoring in an evenly-balanced half.
Ahly's lone striker Malick Evouna outpaced his marker to break clear after a threaded pass from playmaker Ramadan Sobhi on 14 minutes but he shot wide with the goal at his mercy while Moemen Zakareya's effort from inside the area was thwarted by the keeper on 28 minutes following a pull-back from the Gabonese frontman.
Petrojet's towering striker Ahmed Gaafar, who scored twice against Ahly while playing for cross-town rivals Zamalek, had an effort from a tight angle blocked by stand-in keeper Ahmed Adel after a long ball was flicked into his path and was unlucky when his header from a chipped cross struck the bar on the stroke of halftime.
Evouna clearly looked unhappy at being substituted in the second half but Ahly broke the resistance of Petrojet shortly after the hour mark after a flowing move resulted in a deserved penalty.
Attacking midfielder Moemen Zakareya neatly exchanged passes with substitute striker Amr Gamal on the edge of the area and sent a threaded pass to the unmarked Sobhi, who ghosted at the far post before being tripped by the keeper.
El-Said calmly converted the ensuing spot kick and, only four minutes later, doubled Ahly's advantage with a superb low shot from distance which went in off the post.
Zakareya fired high over with only the keeper to beat on 76 minutes but Ahly comfortably held onto their lead to bag all three points.
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