Hadary the hero as Ahly held to 0-0 draw in Egyptian league

Hatem Maher , Saturday 26 Dec 2015

Essam El-Hadary
Wadi Degla keeper Essam El-Hadary produced a string of superb saves to help his side hold Ahly to a 0-0 Egyptian Premier League draw on Saturday (Photo: Degla's official Facebook page)

Essam El-Hadary haunted his former club with a string of superb saves as 10-man Ahly stumbled for the third time in four matches after being held to a goalless draw by Wadi Degla in the Egyptian Premier League on Saturday.

The 42-year-old keeper, who made his name in a 12-year spell with Ahly before leaving for Swiss side Sion in an acrimonious manner in 2008, was a rock at the back as the Cairo giants failed to build on their 3-0 victory over Haras El-Hodoud last Tuesday.

Ahly, who were also profligate, were further affected by the second-half dismissal of midfielder Saleh Gomaa who received his marching orders for a second bookable offence eight minutes past the hour mark.

Eyes were on Ahly's burly striker Malick Evouna after he scored twice against Hodoud but he was barely helped by three attacking midfielders behind him, often trying to muscle his way goalwards despite being surrounded by at least a couple of defenders.

Ahly recovered from two successive losses to overcome Hodoud but Saturday's fresh slump will cast further doubts over their ability to wrestle the title back from Zamalek, who ended the eight-season hegemony of their bitter rivals after winning the premier domestic competition last season.

Degla also finished with ten men after substitute Mohamed Sherif earned a second booking for simulation in stoppage time.

The draw left Ahly ninth in the table with 13 points from seven matches, eight behind leaders Maqassa who played three games more. Degla are 13th with nine points from eight games.

Egypt's best-ever keeper

Degla were grateful to some superb saves from El-Hadary, who is arguably Egypt's best ever goalkeeper, and luck as a couple of shots struck the post in a first-half totally dominated by a vibrant Ahly side.

A pinpoint cross from Evouna picked out Abdallah El-Said at the far post after 11 minutes but the playmaker's half-volley was tipped over by Hadary, who played a key role in helping Egypt to three successive African Nations Cup titles in his glittering career.

Left-back Sabri Rahil had a shot by his weak right foot denied by the post and Hossam Ghaly was also thwarted by El-Hadary from close range, with winger Ramadan Sobhi blasting the ball over the crossbar on the follow-up.

Ahly lost defensive midfielder Hossam Ashour to injury, with Saleh Gomaa, who was also on target against Hodoud, coming on to add further attacking impetus with his marauding runs towards the area.

Following one of those runs on the stroke of halftime, he fed Ghaly on the edge of the area and the central midfielder's low shot hit the woodwork before rolling into the path of Evouna, whose effort went high over with the goal at his mercy.

Ahly kept up the pressure in the early stages of the second half and Degla were once again indebted to the impressive El-Hadary, who blocked two successive efforts from Evouna and Walid Soliman with quick stops.

The Red Devils then eased off and their cause was not helped by the dismissal of Gomaa, with Ahly struggling to move the ball around in his absence.

Chances were scarce in the latter stages as Degla held on for a precious draw.

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