Ahly keeper Sherif Ekramy was the hero as he blocked a fifth-minute stoppage-time penalty from rivals Maqassa to keep a clean sheet and ensure his side come up a 1-0 Egyptian league victory at Cairo's El-Salam Stadium.
In a six-pointer clash, a debatable first-half penalty from Abdallah El-Said put Ahly in front, with Maqassa failing to threaten their opponents quite often throughout the game.
The defending champions were almost made sure of victory when Maqassa's Hussein El-Shahat was sent off following a second yellow card late in the game, before the visitors were awarded a last-gasp penalty.
Keeper Ekramy rose to the occasion to deny Ahmed El-Sheikh, on loan from Ahly, from 12 yards to give his side a precious victory.
Ahly cemented their position on top of the table with 35 points, seven ahead of second-placed Maqassa who still have a rescheduled game against Zamalek.
The match started in high tempo with Maqassa typically pressing from the front, but it was Ahly who came close to exploiting the gaps behind the visitors' backline.
El-Said almost went through on goal in the sixth minute from a Walid Soliman long ball but Maqassa keeper Ahmed Massoud came out of goal in time to deny the Egypt international.
Ahly's Nigerian forward, Junior Ajayi, deployed on the left, could have gone through on goal several times if it wasn't for the assistant referee controversially flagging for offside.
The major debate erupted in the 21st minute when the referee surprised everyone by pointing towards the spot after the ball had allegedly touched a defender's hand inside the box.
El-Said made no mistake from the spot to put his side in front, with Ahly now backing off and leaving possession for Maqassa in an attempt to defend their slender lead.
Just two minutes into the second half, the Fayoum-based side managed to penetrate Ahly's defensive block with a quick passing combination that ended with striker Nana Poku missing from inside the area.
With Ahly seemingly feeling the danger of Maqassa, coach Hossam El-Badry chose to press from the front and indeed could have well scored twice through striker Marwan Mohsen.
After seeing a header go narrowly wide of the post, the ex-Ismaily striker did great to round the goalkeeper before opting to strike from a tight angle when it looked better to pass for a teammate.
Left-back Ali Maaloul and winger Soliman both saw attempts from outside the area go wide, with Ahly looking in control.
The dismissal of El-Shahat - on a second booking due to simulation - with just four minutes remaining meant that Maqassa's mission became more difficult.
The Reds could have made it two deep into stoppage time but Ajayi wasted a big chance from point-blank range.
Ahly could have been punished for their squandered opportunities the following minute when Fathi was adjudged for fouling El-Sheikh inside the area, with the referee pointing to the spot.
El-Sheikh stepped in himself to convert but keeper Ekramy was there to thwart his effort ensuring his side walked off the pitch with all three points.
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