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Thursday, 09 July 2020

Ahly's 46-match unbeaten league run ends after 3-2 defeat by Maqassa

Hatem Maher , Sunday 10 Dec 2017
Maqassa beat Ahly 3-1 in a thrilling Egyptian Premier League game on Sunday (Ahram)
Views: 2730
Views: 2730

Last season's runners-up Maqassa claimed the scalp of another illustrious opponents, handing defending champions Ahly their first Egyptian Premier League defeat in 46 matches following a 3-2 win in a thrilling game on Sunday.

Maqassa, who continued their resurgence under coach Emad Soliman following a poor start to the season, could not have hoped for a better start when the league's top scorer Hussein El-Shahat opened the scoring after 24 minutes, sending home an unstoppable half-volley.

He took his tally to nine goals amid local reports linking him with a move to Ahly.

The Cairo giants leveled the score on the stroke of halftime, thanks to a penalty from spot-kick specialist Abdallah El-Said, but Maqassa went 2-1 up four minutes past the hour mark after Malagasy forward Paulin Voavy rounded off a fine move.

Ghanaian striker John Antwi, an ex-Ahly striker, converted a penalty to make it 3-1 but Moroccan striker Walid Azaro narrowed the deficit with a simple finish for his sixth goal of the season.

Ahly piled on pressure in the dying stages but could not find the equaliser, wasting a plethora of easy chances. They also finished with ten men after substitute Saleh Gomaa was dismissed for a second bookable offense.

Maqassa, who also defeated Ahly's Cairo rivals Zamalek 3-1, moved seventh after continuing their superb run under Soliman, who has presided over five wins and two draws in seven matches after taking over in October.

Ahly missed out on the chance of overtaking Ismaily on top. They remain second in the table with 25 points, two behind Ismaily who played two matches more.

The last time Egypt and Africa's most successful outfit lost in the league was in June, 2016 when they slumped to a 3-2 defeat by Masry.

End-to-end affair

The first half was an exciting, end-to-end affair, with Maqassa looking to continue their recent improvement and Ahly keen to maintain their winning run, having won eight out of their first nine matches.

Ahly had the lion's share of goal-scoring chances, with Azaro hitting the side netting with a fine shot following a superb control of the ball with his chest before missing a sitter on the quarter-hour mark after a cross from the right found him unmarked.

Maqassa scored with their first foray forward when a clever dummy from Antwi allowed a cross to roll into the path of El-Shahat, whose blistering half-volley went past the despairing dive of goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy, although he got a hand to it.

They could have gone 2-0 up on 40 minutes but Antwi's header narrowly missed the target, only for Ahly to equalize just before the halftime whistle when El-Said sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot after Azaro was felled by a clumsy tackle from Maqassa's Ahmed Moudi.

The second half was even more thrilling, with Maqassa displaying neat passing moves to unsettle Ahly's backline and the Red Devils squandering several clear-cut opportunities.

An inswinging corner by El-Said hit the post before Maqassa restored their advantage in the 64th minute, Voavy outpacing central defender Mohamed Naguib to rifle home past Ekramy after a threaded pass.

El-Said, who has been brilliant throughout, hit the woodwork with a fierce volley four minutes later but Ahly were once again caught on the break in the 73rd minute when Antwi broke clear after another defence-splitting pass to round Ekramy, who stuck out his leg to bring him down.

Antwi stepped up to place the ball into the bottom corner and give Maqassa a two-goal cushion, which lasted for just one minute as Azaro narrowed the gap with a simple tap-in into an empty net after a header from substitute Phakamani Mahlambi was parried into his path.

Maqassa survived a barrage of attacks to snatch a remarkable win, their second in 13 meetings with Ahly.

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