Error-ridden Ahly stunned by 4-1 Egyptian league defeat in Cairo

Hatem Maher , Wednesday 24 Dec 2014

Ahly v Ittihad
Ittihad of Alexandria crush Ahly 4-1 in the Egyptian Premier League on Wednesday (Photo: Ahram)

Cairo giants Ahly imploded to lose 4-1 at home to Ittihad after they were severely punished for a disastrous error-ridden display in the Egyptian Premier League on Wednesday.

Alexandria-based club Ittihad, who are managed by Hossam Hassan, a prominent Ahly star in the 1980s and 90s, recorded their first win over the Red Devils since 2008 and could have secured a more emphatic victory in the dying minutes.

The visitors went to the locker room 2-0 up, thanks to goals from Ethiopia striker Oumed Oukri and Mohamed Hamdi. Substitute Felix Katongo of Zambia scored with his first touch to make it 3-0 on 76 minutes and defender Rami Adel headed home against his old club eight minutes from time to heap more misery on Ahly.

Egypt and Africa's most successful outfit notched a consolation via a stoppage-time header from Ethiopia's Saladin Said but the embarrassing night is likely to cast doubts over their title credentials at a time when arch-rivals Zamalek seem determined to end Ahly's eight-year hegemony in the premier domestic competition.

Ahly have suffered league defeats by three-goal margins three times in the last 10 years. They lost 3-0 to bitter foes Ismaily in 2007, 3-0 to ENPPI one year later and were defeated by the same score against Haras El-Hodoud in February 2013.

The defeat by Ittihad also marked the first time Ahly concede four goals at Cairo Stadium since their thrilling 4-4 draw at home to Ismaily in 2002. 

Their vulnerability at the back cost them dearly as Ahly failed to bag all three points for the second straight game, having been held to a 0-0 draw with Wadi Degla last Saturday.

The defeat leaves Ahly in fifth place with 21 points, 10 behind leaders Zamalek who played two games more. Ittihad, who are gradually improving under Hossam Hassan, moved to the 11th spot on 18 points.

Shaky backline

Ahly's shaky backline was exposed as early as the third minute as Ittihad stunned their illustrious opponents, with Ramzi Khaled toying with veteran midfielder Hossam Ghaly on the right before sending in a cross that inexperienced full-back Louay Wael could only head into the path of Umed, who made no mistake with a close-range shot after escaping his marker.

Ahly had the lion's share of possession but could not find a way through a steadfast defence, and the menacing Umed continued to cause all sorts of problems to a static four-man backline which was caught out on several occasions.

Repeated long balls eluded Ahly's rearguard and Hamdi almost doubled Ittihad's advantage when he tried to lob keeper Mosaad Awad on 42 minutes but his effort went over the bar after another neatly-worked breakaway.

He made amends four minutes later from a carbon-copy move, breaking clear before sending a low shot under Awad and into the net.

The second-half introduction of youngster Ramadan Sobhi and Saladin Said injected some urgency upfront but a lethargic Ahly side still found it difficult to create goal-scoring opportunities.

They spurned a couple of chances early in the second half though, with playmaker Sobhi hitting the side netting from a tight angle after a cross evaded Ittihad's entire defence and Said having a weak header blocked by keeper Ali Farag after he was picked out unmarked by a superb ball from Walid Soliman.

But their defensive woes continued to haunt them, with Zambian international Katongo extending the gap with a 75th-minute goal after he rounded Awad to slot into an empty net.

Central defender Adel headed home at the near post to put the icing on the cake as Said's late header for Ahly proved a mere consolation.

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