Saad Samir scored in stoppage time as Ahly capitalised on a slip-up by arch-rivals Zamalek to defeat resilient Smouha 1-0 for their seventh straight Egyptian Premier League win on Thursday.
Ahly survived some first-half scares from Smouha to net a last-gasp goal, with central defender Samir making the most of a blunder from keeper Mohamed Abou Gabal to volley home a precious winner.
It was Ahly's first home win over Smouha in the league since 2012, helping the leaders move 10 points clear of second-placed Maqassa, who have two matches in hand.
Zamalek are still seen as Ahly's genuine challengers for the title but they were held to a surprise 0-0 draw at lowly Aswan earlier in the day, leaving them 18 points behind their Cairo foes.
Should Zamalek win their four rescheduled matches, they will still be four points behind Ahly.
Smouha finished with ten men after Burkinabe defender Patrick Malo was dismissed for a second bookable offence.
Ahly's victory over Smouha is their second in a difficult run-in before a lengthy league break next month as Egypt prepare for the Africa Cup of Nations. The title holders, who also defeated Maqassa 1-0 in another tough encounter, will face ENPPI, Masry and Zamalek before the competition's stoppage.
Tight Smouha defence
Ahly dominated possession in the early stages but were shackled by a tight Smouha defence, with the Alexandria-based club keeping in check the likes of Abdallah El-Said, Walid Soliman and Junior Ajayi.
A compact Smouha side created the first-half's best chances, with Burkinabe forward Banou Diawara spurning two opportunities in quick succession.
On 28 minutes, Diawara met a right-wing cross with a superb bicycle kick that came back off the post, to the relief of goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy.
Only two minutes later, another floated cross found Diawara unmarked after Ahly's right-back Mohamed Hani slipped. He chested the ball but fired over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
Smouha remained bold after the break, striking a fine balance between their defensive and attacking duties. They retreated a bit but still caused constant menace to Ahly on the break.
But the Red Devils also improved and were finally able to slice open the Smouha defence on two occasions.
Playmaker El-Said, who was at the heart of the majority of Ahly's attacking attempts, hit the side netting when well positioned to score while striker Marwan Mohsen, who is still struggling to win over the team's faithful following his summer arrival, sent a low shot just wide after breaking clear.
At the other end, Smouha striker Hossam Salama, known as Paolo, had a deflected shot that went just over the bar from inside the area.
Ahly lost influential defender Ahmed Hegazy to injury in the latter stages but they were hardly affected as Smouha had already camped in their own half to soak up pressure.
Three minutes into injury time, an innocuous free kick from the left ended with the ball hitting the face of Smouha's poorly-positioned keeper, allowing Samir to volley into the roof of the net.
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