Ahly take advantage of Zamalek slip-up to close gap on top of Egyptian league
Hatem Maher , Wednesday 20 Feb 2019

Ahly made the most of Zamalek's slip-up to grab a 3-1 win over Dakhleya on Wednesday and close to within seven points of their bitter rivals on top of the Egyptian Premier League with a game in hand.

Two goals from lively right-back Mohamed Hani and Nigerian striker Junior Ajayi gave Ahly a 2-0 lead at halftime but Dakhleya briefly threatened to stage a comeback similar to the one Talae El-Geish did earlier in the day to hold Zamalek to an exciting 2-2 draw.

Ahmed Saied converted a dubious second-half penalty as Dakhleya revived their hopes to restore parity but Angolan winger Geraldo, a January recruit who shone in the absence of suspended winger Ramadan Sobhi, ensured Ahly's victory with a stoppage-time goal.

The Cairo giants, winners of the past three league editions, have everything to play for in what is becoming a traditional two-horse race between the perennial rivals as the season approaches a crucial stage.

Ahly are joint second in the table with 45 points, on level with Pyramids FC who played three matches more. Should the Red Devils win their game in hand, they will only be four points behind Zamalek who at one point were eight clear on top.

Hani gave Ahly the lead after 20 minutes in the team's first real attempt, exchanging passes with in-form central midfielder Amr El-Sulaya to break clear and calmly find the near bottom corner with the outside of his right foot.

Geraldo caused constant menace to Dakhleya's defence down the left, thanks to some eye-catching twists and turns. In the 37th minute, he superbly toe-poked the ball past two challengers to race clear, only to slip when he was just about to shoot as his effort went wide.

But he made amends one minute later after starting the move which led to Ahly's second goal, with his back-heel pass finding Tunisian left-back Ali Maaloul who crossed low into the area.

Ajayi, with his back to his challenger, controlled the ball and bamboozled his marker with a fine turn to place the ball between the legs of experienced keeper Mohamed Sobhi and into the net.

Ahly took their foot off the gas pedal in a slow second half but they could have still killed off the game with a third goal in the 59th minute when record signing Hussein El-Shahat fired straight at the keeper following a fine team move.

They were given a scare when the referee pointed to the spot after central defender Ayman Ashraf was adjudged to have fouled Rwandan forward Kevin Muhire, with Said tucking away the penalty to force some nervy moments in the latter stages.

Dakhleya's tame efforts to equalise barely troubled Ahly though and Geraldo almost added a third four minutes from time when his volley grazed the outside of the post.

The former Primeiro de Agosto man had the last laugh, converting a low cross from El-Shahat in off the bar with the goal gaping as Ahly claimed a seventh successive win.

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