Ahly paid for wasting a host of clear-cut chances in the second half to share spoils with El-Entag El-Harby in a thrilling 2-2 draw, missing out on the chance of moving top in the Egyptian Premier League.
The defending champions opened the scoring just after the quarter-hour mark through a deflected free-kick from Ahmed Fathi but El-Entag forward Mohamed Abd-Rabou ‘Felix’ equalized few minutes later after capitalizing on a defensive blunder.
Ahly laid siege to El-Entag’s area in the second half and were guilty of spurning some easy opportunities, giving the visitors the chance to hit them on the break one minute from time.
El-Entag were awarded a penalty for a last-man foul on Ghanaian striker Kwabena Yaro and Gomaa Mashhour converted it to stun the vociferous home crowd, who kept cheering in the stands in stoppage time.
The fans’ support bore fruit when Ahly midfielder Abdel-Hamid Shabana rose high to head home at the near post and make sure his side got something from the game.
The draw prevented Ahly from moving top as they remained second in the table on 42 points, behind arch-rivals and leaders Zamalek on goal difference.
Zamalek can stretch their lead at the top to three points if they beat Arab Contractors on Saturday.
Ahly took the lead after 16 minutes when Fath’s innocuous right-foot free kick deflected off a defender and wrong-footed El-Entag keeper Nader Saad.
The hosts’ celebrations were cut short, however, after El-Entag made the most of a defensive lapse to level the score four minutes later and silence Ahly’s enthusiastic Ultras, whose incessant chants built a lively atmosphere in an otherwise dour first-half.
Combative striker Yaro dispossessed Ahly’s disappointing right-back Ahmed Nabil ‘Manga’ and held off three defenders, who rashly rushed into his path, to find the unmarked Felix who notched home with aplomb from inside the area.
Ahly’s build-up play was characterized with pace, thanks to the presence of energetic forwards Mohamed Barakat and Dominique Da Silva of Mauritania, but lack of spark let them down amid numerous mis-placed passes.
Dominique, who scored in Ahly’s 2-1 victory over Wadi Degla when he played as a lone striker, was surprisingly deployed as a deep-lying forward behind Egyptian international Mohamed Nagy ‘Gedo’.
He lost possession on several occasions to prompt Ahly coach Manuel Jose to replace him early in the second half, introducing Osama Hosny who came in for criticism lately following a string of below-par displays.
Ahly piled on pressure after the break and came close to restoring their lead on the hour mark when Gedo’s close-range header was palmed by Saad, who was on alert to tip over a looping header from Hosny few minutes later.
A rare fault from the in-form guardian, who mis-judged a left-wing cross, could have cost El-Entag dearly in the 75th minute but Fathi’s follow-up shot hit the side netting.
Ahly were punished for their wastefulness when Mashhour converted a penalty with one minute remaining after a breakaway released Yaro who was eventually tripped by defender Ahmed El-Sayed.
Ahly avoided suffering their second loss this season when Shabana headed home a corner in the dying seconds to secure a share of spoils but the result does little to boost the team’s hopes of winning a seventh consecutive league crown.