The defensive strategy of rivals Ittihad made Ahly's mission more difficult in Tuesday's 2-0 league victory according to the Reds' head coach Martin Lasarte, who insisted that rotating his players was a risk against the Alexandria-based team.
"The match was difficult because of the defensive strategy deployed by our opponent. We made some faults in the first half, but we restored the balance after the break," Uruguayan Lasarte said in the press conference after the match.
Two stoppage-time goals from Ali Maaloul and substitute Saleh Gomaa helped Ahly move top for the first time this season with 55 points, one ahead of title challengers and Cairo archrivals Zamalek who can regain their position in first place if they beat Smouha on Wednesday. Ittihad remains ninth on 32 points.
"The victory is very important. I decided to give some players a rest against Ittihad and that was risky as I was obliged to make many changes in the squad. Finally, I must get the most benefit of the big squad that we have," the coach explained.
"We faced Zamalek few days ago and now we are preparing for facing Sundowns in a difficult match in the Champions League so rotation was a must today," the coach concluded.
Ahly has Saturday a crucial Champions League quarterfinals clash away against South Africa's Sundowns.
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