Al Masry's Ahmed Samir (L) fights for the ball against Al-Ahly's Hussein Sayed during their Egyptian Premier League soccer match at El-Gouna stadium in Hurghada January 10, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)
Masry and Ahly played out a 1-1 Egyptian Premier League draw in their first meeting since the infamous Port Said tragedy that left some 74 fans dead back in February 2012.
With fans eager to see how things will go on between the bitter rivals following a massacre that is still fresh in the minds, the match, which took place behind closed doors in the Red Sea resort of El-Gouna, passed peacefully with no flare-up of tensions between the players.
For all die-hard Ahly fans, justice has yet to be served for their slain comrades after a court ruling ordered the retrial of the defendants in the case last year, including 21 people who were sentenced to death.
On the pitch, however, it was a different story, with both sets of squads distancing themselves from the enmity between their respective fans having shaken hands after the final whistle.
Before the match, Ahly's players had lifted a black banner honoring their Port Said victims, while also wearing an undershirt bearing the number 74 - in reference to the number of their murdered fans.
Masry chairman Yasser Yehia said on Friday the team players would wear undershirts bearing the number 126 - referring to the total number of lost fans belonging to Ahly, Masry and Zamalek in different incidents.
Expectedly, tight security measures were undertaken to ensure a trouble-free game in a country hit by political turmoil and terrorist attacks in several cities.
The game was staged at Gouna Stadium, which did not particularly look the best of venues due to a poor ground, as Masry have been serving a stadium-ban since the Port Said disaster.
Masry took the lead after 57 minutes via a low shot from Mahmoud Abdel-Hakim but Ahly restored parity with a simple tap-in from substitute Ramadan Sobhi with 10 minutes remaining. Masry survived a late Ahly onslaught to secure a share of spoils.
Defending champions Ahly, who are chasing a ninth successive title, are fourth in the table with 28 points, 12 behind leaders and arch-rivals Zamalek. However, they still have three games in hand on their Cairo foes.
Masry, who are aiming to improve under Spanish coach Juan Maceda, are languishing in 13th place on 21 points.
El-Sayed daunts Masry
Ahly were relatively the better side in the first half, and their main source of danger was their left flank – occupied by wide man Mahmoud Hassan 'Trezeguet' and left-back Hussein El-Sayed.
El-Sayed in particular gave ex-Zamalek right-back Ahmed Samir some hard time with his surges and runs down the flank, and indeed it was the young full-back who managed to threaten the opponents' goal.
Masry keeper Mohamed Awad was tested by El-Sayed after 10 minutes when the Ahly man saw a shot from outside the box saved by the Masry guardian.
El-Sayed continued to haunt the hosts from the left, where he had a cross-cum-shot graze the bar in the 16th minute.
With the Port Said side not looking particularly impressive, ex-Ahly frontman Ahmed Raouf shot towards goal from close-range, but keeper Mosaad Awad was there to gather the ball on 34 minutes.
The first chance of the second half came in the 55th minute when Trezeguet saw a curling effort from inside the box miss the target while striking from an unbalanced position.
Just two minutes later, Abdel-Hakim gave Masry the lead when he was curiously allowed space behind Ahly's midfield to strike from outside the box past the stranded Ahly keeper for the opener.
Masry sit back in a bid to defend their slender lead, and it was a spell of Ahly domination that saw defender Wilson Akakpo clear off the line in the 70th minute, before striker Emad Meteb saw a strike denied by the woodwork.
But substitute Sobhi equalized when he poked home a low cross from the right after it evaded Masry's defenders and keeper. Ahly poured forward in the dying minutes to snatch a win but Masry held on for a point.
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