Egypt's Ahly see off Etoile to move top in Confed Cup group

Omar Zaazou, Saturday 25 Jul 2015

Walid Soliman gives Ahly all three points as keeper Sherif Ekramy keeps a clean sheet after some fine saves

Moemen Zakareya struggling for the ball with an Etoile opponent in their Group A meeting in the Confederation Cup (Photo: Ahram)

Egyptian giants Ahly laboured to a narrow 1-0 victory at home to Tunisia's Etoile du Sahel on Sunday to overtake them at the top of Group A in the Confederation Cup last-eight at Suez’s Army Stadium.

A beautiful goal from Walid Soliman in the first half was enough to give defending champions Ahly all three points and a second win in three games.

The first win also came against another Tunisian rivals in Esperance, who were handed a 3-0 loss at the hands of the Reds in the group opener.

One-time Confederation Cup winners Etoile slipped to second spot in the group on six points, one adrift of Ahly, and five ahead of Stade Malien.

 El-Saied shines

A dreary affair saw Ahly almost take the initiative early on after Emad Meteb caught the Etoile defence napping to comfortably volley keeper Sherif Ekramy’s upfield punt from the edge of the area, but his effort went wide.

The Tunisians then replied through Youssef Mouhibi, who alongside other two teammates found themselves in a three vs two position against the Ahly rearguard, but Ekramy excellently parried the forward’s shot.

From there on, it was an all-Ahly affair, as Abdallah El-Saied saw a strike denied by the opposition’s defence who headed away his shot from the edge of the box after nearly half an hour.

But it was just six minutes later when El-Saied was involved in Ahly’s opener, with his cross cleared away by the Tunisians’ defence before Soliman superbly chested the ball and volleyed past the keeper with his weak right foot.

Shortly afterwards, Ahly could have well made it two-nil, with the veteran Hossam Ghaly this time failing to convert El-Saied’s brilliant through ball with just four minutes remaining before the break. 

Yet luck still stood against Ahly, with El-Saied running in space directly towards the defence before seeing his strike ricochet off the post, as keeper Ayman Mathlouthi thwarted him on the rebound on the stroke of halftime.  

Late action

The second half did not witness much of real chances for either side, as both looked content with the result until the dying moments of the game which could have well seen a goal scored.

It all started when El-Saied set up Mahmoud Hassan ‘Trezeguet’, who replaced Meteb after the break, but the substitute failed to control the ball in a similar fashion to goal-scorer Soliman, before keeper Mathlouthi saved the situation.

Keeper Ekramy was called into action too, and should be acclaimed for saving the match’s three points and keeping a clean sheet after denying Ghazi Abderrazak’s shot deep into stoppage time.

On the other end of the pitch, however, it was Mathlouthi’s turn to spare his side a second goal after saving a one-on-one effort from Soliman before substitute Ahmed Abdel-Zaher fired just over the bar to end the match 1-0 for the reigning champions.

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