Ahly continue their 100 percent record with a 1-0 victory over Arab Contractors (Photo: Ahram)
The natural defensive midfielder, who has been lately given a new role as a central defender in a three-man backline, made the most of a mis-timed jump by Contractors keeper Mahmoud Aboul-Saoud to score the winner seven minutes past the hour mark.
Ahly still had to endure some nervy moments as Contractors pushed forward in the latter stages, with Fathi earning a straight red card deep in stoppage time for a last-man foul on pacy Colombian forward Luis Hinestroza.
The hosts were also indebted to goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shennawi, who thwarted substitute Mohamed Salem in a one-on-one in a frantic ending to the fast-paced encounter.
Ahly moved top with 12 points after becoming the only team to bag maximum points from the opening four matches. Pyramids are second on 10 points, one ahead of third-placed and defending champions Zamalek.
Contractors dropped to 11th in the table on four points.
Ahly applied pressure from the very beginning but could only create a couple of chances in the first half, with Contractors' massed ranks at the back making life difficult for them.
The visitors had a goal disallowed for offside on 13 minutes after Farouck Kabore headed home from a free kick but Ahly then assumed control.
Right-back Akram Tawfik made a foray into the area and cut inside his challenger, only to see his angled low shot strike the near post. Fathi also headed just wide following a corner.
Contractors were awarded a penalty for an apparent handball on Fathi early in the second half, but the decision was overturned after a VAR review as replays showed that the ball had accidentally hit the defender's arm, which was not unnaturally raised.
The 27-year-old then broke the resistance of Contractors following a mistake by Aboul-Saoud and Ahly were unlucky not to extend their advantage on several occasions.
They could have been punished at the end had it not been for a fine stop from the ever-reliable El-Shennawi.
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