Egypt's Ahly moved to the brink of sealing a semi-final spot at the African Confederation Cup after an early Walid Soliman penalty handed them an easy 1-0 win over Ivory Coast's Sewe Sport in Cairo on Saturday.
The Red Devils, whose starting line-up included three summer arrivals, spurned some easy chances to put the result beyond doubt but they still held onto their slender lead to move three points clear on top of Group B with two matches remaining.
Sewe Sport finished with ten men after Jules Yoboue was sent off for a second bookable offense in stoppage time.
Ahly have eight points, three ahead of Etoile Sahel after the Tunisian side were handed a 4-3 defeat by Zambia's Nkana in the other group match on Saturday.
Nkana are third on four points while Sewe Sport, whose slump against Ahly marked their first group-stage defeat, lie at the bottom with three points. The top two will advance to the semis.
Ahly made an explosive start, opening the scoring as early as the fourth minute when winger Soliman, who made his first start following a lengthy lay-off through injury, sent Sylvain Gbohou the wrong way from the spot after debutant Mohamed Farouk was tripped inside the area.
Attacking midfielder Farouk, who joined from Arab Contractors in the close season, was Ahly's liveliest performer in the first half, showing flashes of his talent as the Red Devils were unlucky not to double their advantage on several occasions in the first half.
Gbohou would have paid for a number of mis-timed jumps had it not been for some poor finishing from Ahly's forwards, with Amr Gamal heading over the bar with the goal gaping and Soliman sending a far-post diving header into the side netting.
Ahly took their feet off the gas pedal but Sewe Sport rarely threatened. Their only first-half chance fell to Hermann Kouao on the stroke of halftime but he shot wide from inside the area following a defensive mistake.
The second half was a drab affair marked by a labored display from both sides.
A low effort from Sewe Sport's Roger Assale missed the target while a curling shot from substitute Emad Meteb, who replaced Soliman after he was injured, went just wide at the other end.
There were some tame efforts for Sewe Sport in the dying minutes but Ahly held on to continue their bid to become the first Egyptian side to win Africa's secondary club competition.
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