A stoppage-time goal gave Ahly a 2-1 Super Cup win over 10-man ENPPI in a controversial but trouble-free affair in Alexandria on Sunday.
Abdallah El-Saied handed Ahly a first-half lead after ENPPI’s defender Mano was dismissed after picking up a second yellow card for a handball.
Mohamed Shaaban equalized for ENPPI following a goalkeeping mistake but Mohamed Nagy ‘Gedo’ notched up in stoppage time to give Ahly their seventh Super Cup triumph in a subdued game that was played at the Egyptian Army Stadium behind closed doors due to lingering security concerns.
Many Egyptians endured nerve-racking hours on Sunday, fearing that some die-hard Ahly supporters might attempt to storm the stadium which hosted the game in Borg El-Arab district in Alexandria.
Ultras Ahlawy, the most influential fan group in Egypt, said in the early hours of Sunday that they had retracted threats to invade the stadium but hundreds of fans still went to Alexandria to stage protests.
The match kick-off was delayed by one hour following the late arrivals of Ahly and ENPPI, given tight security measures.
Social network websites were rife with calls for Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi to cancel the match. When the game started, many political activists and football fans said they would neither watch the game nor tweet any live updates.
Ahly’s angry fans oppose any resumption of domestic football until the perpetrators of the Port Said disaster, which left over 70 fans dead on 1 February, are brought to justice.
“We are not challenging anyone by staging the Super Cup. Playing the game means that life must continue, and does not mean that we forgot the rights of the martyrs,” Sports minister El-Amry Farouk told Ahly’s television channel.
“We are taking all the steps to preserve the martyrs’ rights. We respect the angry fans and their views, which they have the right to express freely,” he added.
The match was the first to be played in local competitions since Port Said’s disaster forced a seven-month suspension of domestic football.
The Egyptian Premier League, which was called off last season, is scheduled to start on 17 October.
Ahly had to do without veteran playmaker Mohamed Abou-Treika, who pulled out of the game in solidarity with Ultras Ahlawy. The club said they would take a disciplinary action against him following the match.
ENPPI had an early chance to grab the lead when a defensive lapse by Ahly’s Saad Samir allowed striker Ahmed Abdel-Zaher to break clear but his shot went just wide.
Ahly then totally dominated the game, wasting several clear-cut opportunities to break the deadlock. A close-range effort by Gedo hit the side netting with the goal at his mercy while playmaker Abdallah El-Saied had a fierce free kick denied by the bar.
Their pressure paid off in the 64th minute when Ahly were awarded a penalty for a handball on ENPPI’s Mozambique defender Mano, who was sent off for a second yellow card.
El-Saied’s initial spot-kick was saved by the keeper but he made no mistake on the follow-up to give the Red Devils a deserved lead.
ENPPI levelled against the run of play when Shaaban’s curling free kick from the left wrong-footed poorly-positioned goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy at the near post.
However, Gedo settled the tie in Ahly’s favour when he headed home a Mohamed Barakat right-wing cross just before the end.
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