Emad Meteb was Ahly's hero against ENPPI
Emad Meteb headed the winner on his second Ahly appearance this season as the Red Devils came from behind to beat ENPPI 2-1 and leapfrog arch-rivals Zamalek into the Egyptian Premier League summit on Tuesday.
The 28-year-old, who rejoined his boyhood club in January after abruptly annulling his deal with Belgian side Standard Liege, found the net in the 71st minute to hand Ahly a precious win at Cairo Stadium.
ENPPI took a first-half lead via a brilliant volley from midfielder Mohamed Aboul-Ella but Ahly, who came on with all guns blazing in the second period, restored parity four minutes after the restart, thanks to a goal from substitute Dominique Da Silva.
The Mauritania striker also set up Meteb for the winner as Ahly continued their bid for a seventh consecutive league crown.
They are now on top of the table with 52 points, two ahead of second-placed Zamalek, who were held to a goalless draw by El-Geish on Monday, with five matches to go. Both sides meet in a crunch Cairo derby on 29 June.
Ahly’s rhythm in the first half was affected by too many mis-placed passes from midfield duo Hossam Ashour and Hossam Ghaly, who neither closed down spaces in their own half nor contributed to the team’s build-up play.
Meteb, who recently recovered from a broken rib, was handed a place in the starting line-up to make his first appearance this term.
However, given Ahly’s midfield deficiency, he was isolated upfront, managing only a couple of shots from inside the area which were easily dealt with by ENPPI keeper Mohamed Abou-Gabal.
ENPPI also committed errors in midfield but they at least made the most of a rare foray to open the scoring in style and silence Ahly’s vociferous home crowd after 34 minutes.
Ahly’s right-back Ahmed Fathi could only clear a Walid Soliman cross into the path of the unmarked Aboul-Ella, whose powerful first-timer left keeper Ahmed Adel with no chance.
Adel was on alert to prevent ENPPI going 2-0 up after superbly tipping over a fierce drive from winger Islam Awad three minutes later.
Ahly’s sole opportunity fell to the under-fire Mohamed Nagy ‘Gedo’, who is yet to win over the Red Devils’ supporters after making a hugely controversial move from Ittihad of Alexandria last summer.
The 2010 African Cup of Nations top scorer latched onto a long ball from Ghaly to break clear of defence but he blasted poorly wide with the goal at his mercy before shaking his head in disbelief.
Ahly coach Manuel Jose brought in Dominique and winger Ahmed Shokry instead of Sayed Moawad and Mohamed Barakat respectively, the substitutions which paid off few minutes after the restart.
The hosts levelled the score in the 49th minute when Fathi exchanged passes with Gedo before finding Dominique with a pinpoint cross to send a diving header past Abou-Gabal from six yards out.
The lively Mauritanian came close to scoring his second of the night shortly after but his left-foot half-volley went just wide of the post after a flowing move involving Ghaly, who notably improved in the second half.
The speedy Dominique, who joined Ahly last January, had a hand in Ahly’s second goal in the 71st minute to spark wild celebrations in the stands. He gathered a poor clearance from Abou-Gabal inside the area to pick out Meteb with a deft pass.
The Egypt striker rediscovered his goal-scoring touch to head home from close range and give Ahly all three points at the expense of a stubborn ENPPI side, whose late efforts to equalize came to nothing.