Stade Malien of Mali scored a dramatic injury-time goal to stop Egypt’s Ahly 1-0 in the first leg clash of the CAF Champions League round of 16 on Sunday.
The defense of six-time CAF African Champions League winners, Ahly, was hit early on in the 8th minute, as veteran defender Wael Gomaa was substituted by teammate Sherif Abdel-Fadil due to injury.
For most time of the first half, the Red Devils' midfield was not in top form, especially after experienced midfielder and skipper Hossam Ghaly was ruled out of the match due to a recent dispute with Portuguese coach Manuel Jose Da Silva.
The game was suspended after 21 minutes of play, when Ahly’s Mohamed Barakat recieved a blow to his abdomen by a Stade Malien player.
The hosts tried to intensify their attacks in the last ten minutes of the first half, but Ahly’s goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy was in the right place at the every turn.
Ahly had a golden chance to proceed in injury time, when forward Mohamed Nagy 'Gedo' was tackled just outside the area and a direct free kick was awarded. The shot by Walid Soliman, however, went over the goal.
A better but dramatic second half for Ahly
Noticing his side's toothless attack during the first half, Ahly coach Manuel Jose was determined to apply more pressure on the opponent’s defence, choosing to field veteran Mohamed Abou-Treika instead of Walid Soliman from the start of the second half.
In the second half, Stade Malien attempted to increase their ball possession, but the Cairo giants seemed calmer, playing with more confidence.
Goalkeeper Ekramy remained Ahly's hero, as he managed to maintain a clean sheet after intermittent Malian offensives.
In the 27th minute, Jose played striker Emad Meteb, removing Dominuque da Silva in a move to reinforce his front line, but his efforts were in vain.
Ahly players maintained good ball control in the last ten minutes, making a lot of quick sequential attacks but were unable to find the net.
St Malien capitalised on Ahly's blunted attack, scoring a last minute winner when Lamine Diawara took advantage of an error by keeper Ekramy.
The Red Devils will need to recover their edge, when they host the Malian side in the second leg in Cairo in a fortnight.
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