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Friday, 19 July 2019

Egypt's Ahly tried to take inspiration from Barcelona's 'remontada', to no avail

Hatem Maher , Saturday 13 Apr 2019
Martin Lasarte
Ahly coach Martin Lasarte (Ahram)
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Ahly players watched a footage of Barcelona's memorable "remontada" against Paris Saint-Germain as they attempted to stage their own historic comeback, but to no avail.

Barcelona, down 4-0 in the first leg of the European Champions League round of 16 in 2017, won the second leg 6-1 after scoring three goals in the last five minutes to go through in an epic encounter.

But the inspiration Ahly sought did not make the desired effect, with the team only claiming a 1-0 home win over South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday to bow out of the African Champions League quarters with a 5-1 aggregate defeat.

"Yesterday, we watched the Barcelona-PSG game to motivate the players. We were hoping to score an early goal and we were close to doing that but for Walid Azaro's chance and the woodwork," Ahly coach Martin Lasarte told the post-match news conference.

Despite being roared on by tens of thousands of supporters at Alexandria's Borg El-Arab Stadium, Ahly hardly made their dominance count after failing to break down the resolute visitors for long spells.

The first goal came too late for the Red Devils to stage a comeback, with Walid Azaro heading home eight minutes past the hour mark.

They also wasted several clear-cut chances and Nigerian forward Junior Ajayi had a goal harshly disallowed for offside early in the second half.

"We had a good match and I'm proud of the players … but this is football," Uruguayan boss Lasarte added.

"I will continue my work to improve the team and help them win titles."

Following Ahly's elimination, they still have two domestic titles to fight for.

They top the Egyptian Premier League table with nine matches remaining, one point ahead of arch-rivals Zamalek. They also face Pyramids FC in the Egypt Cup quarter-final.

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

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