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Thursday, 21 March 2019

Late header earns Egypt's Ahly draw at Algeria's Saoura in Champions League

Hatem Maher , Friday 18 Jan 2019
Ahly
Ahly salvage a late 1-1 draw with Algeria's JS Saoura in the African Champions League on Friday (Ahram)
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Midfielder Karim Walid atoned for an earlier glaring miss to send a late header home and help Egypt's Ahly salvage a 1-1 draw at Algerian side JS Saoura in the African Champions League on Friday.

Making the most of a timid performance from an Ahly side who were largely toothless in a dull affair, Yahia Cherif scored with a bullet header just before the hour mark to send the home fans into raptures.

Ahly coach Martin Lasarte threw in Junior Ajayi to revitalize his attack and the Nigerian winger, making his first appearance in several months after recovering from injury, did not disappoint, starting the move from which Walid netted to silence the passionate crowd.

Cherif thought he had given Saoura a remarkable victory over the mighty Red Devils when his brilliant overhead kick went past keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi deep in stoppage time but he was let down by the linesman flag for a correct offside.

Although Ahly looked far from impressive despite the presence of new signings Ramadan Sobhi and Hussein El-Shahat upfront, they will still be content to share spoils as they remained on top of Group D with four points.

Tanzania's Simba, who have three points, will go top if they beat DR Congo's Vita Club in the other group match on Saturday.

Lasarte gave a debut to central defender Yasser Ibrahim, who arrived from Smouha, but Ahly's real problem was in the final third as the team lacked an out-and-out striker following the injury of their three frontmen, including influential Moroccan marksman Walid Azaro.

Natural winger Walid Soliman, who later went off injured, could hardly adapt to a lone striker role as he was easily contained by Saoura's rearguard.

Both sides failed to create genuine goal-scoring chances in a bore first half but the match burst into life on 59 minutes when Cherif, 34, belied his age with a leap over defender Ayman Ashraf to powerfully head home following a teasing cross from the left.

Ajayi and playmaker Nasser Maher were then introduced as Ahly stepped up a gear, creating their first chance in the 79th minute when Walid beat the offside trap to run onto a perfectly-weighted pass from Maher, only to side-foot wide with the goal at his mercy.

However, he made no mistake when he rose to head home a Mohamed Hani cross from close range as Ahly, who reached the Champions League final the past two years but lost on both occasions, maintained a fine start to the group stage.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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