Two goals from full-backs Ahmed Fathi and Sayed Moawad gave Ahly an easy 2-0 win over Petrojet as the Red Devils pulled level on points with Zamalek at the top of the Egyptian Premier League table.
Right-back Fathi opened the scoring on the quarter-hour mark and left-back Moawad wrapped up the victory seven minutes after the break as Ahly registered their eighth win in 10 league meetings with Petrojet since the latter secured top-flight promotion in 2006.
Ahly had to play with ten men for the majority of the second half after evergreen midfielder Ahmed Hassan was sent off for collecting two yellow cards but they were barely threatened by a toothless Petrojet side, who were playing their first game under new coach Mohamed Omar.
The Cairo giants, who are chasing their seventh consecutive league triumph, moved level on 49 points with arch-rivals Zamalek, who lie at the top due to their superior goal difference.
With third-placed Ismaily losing ground following a 1-0 defeat by El-Geish earlier on Friday, A traditional two-horse race between Ahly and Zamalek is expected to go down to the wire.
The presence of Hossam Ghaly and Hassan in Ahly’s midfield helped them gain control from the early stages. Ghaly’s precise through passes and Hassan’s energetic display proved too strong for Petrojet defenders, who were beaten after 15 minutes.
Fathi, who gave a series of assured displays lately, arrowed a powerful right-foot free-kick into the bottom corner of the net from the edge of the area to hand Ahly a deserved lead.
Petrojet’s sole first-half chance fell to striker Marouane Mohsen, who rose unmarked to meet an Osama Hassan cross with a powerful header that was blocked by Ahly keeper Ahmed Adel in the 28th minute.
Ahly maintained their supremacy after the break and were further helped by the introduction of veteran attacking midfielder Mohamed Barakat, who replaced Dominique Da Silva as the Mauritania striker was largely anonymous in the first half.
Moawad doubled the hosts’ advantage in the 52nd minute when he exchanged passes with Barakat on the edge of the area before sending a delightful curling shot into the top corner of the net.
Hassan was dismissed on 60 minutes after picking up a second yellow card for a handball but Ahly were hardly affected by their numerical disadvantage.
They could have added a third with eight minutes remaining but a long-range drive by substitute Moataz Eno struck the post and a lob by Algerian playmaker Amir Sayoud, who also came on in the second half, went just wide.