Ahly's winning run halted by last-gasp loss to Wadi Degla

Hatem Maher , Saturday 7 May 2016

Ahly v Wadi Degla
Ahly lose to Wadi Degla 1-0 in the Egyptian Premier League on Saturday (Ahram)

Substitute Junior Mapuku scored deep in stoppage time as Wadi Degla handed Ahly their first defeat since December with a surprise 1-0 victory on Saturday to breathe new life into the Egyptian Premier League title race.

The 26-year-old Congolese striker, who was introduced on the hour mark, notched home following a superb individual effort just when all of his teammates had their backs to the wall to soak up relentless pressure from the mighty Ahly.

Ahy's Dutch coach Martin Jol, under whom the club secured five consecutive wins to open up an 11-point lead over nearest challengers and title holders Zamalek, said following Wednesday's 4-0 defeat of Haras El-Hodoud that his side needed three more wins to claim the title.

However, Saturday's unexpected loss against Wadi Degla, with whom they played out a 0-0 draw in December, nine days after slumping to an embarrassing 3-0 loss to Smouha, give Zamalek hope that they could cause an upset in the latter stages of the season.

The Red Devils are still on top with 59 points, eight clear of Zamalek with eight matches remaining. Degla moved to the fourth spot with 43 points as they chase an African Confederation Cup place.


Ahly had the lion's share of possession in the first half but struggled to break through the massed ranks of Degla despite the return from a two-game suspension of in-form youngster Ramadan Sobhi, who found it difficult to link up with fellow attacking midfielders Abdallah El-Said and Moemen Zakareya.

Lone striker Malick Evouna, whose $2.5 million move to Ahly last summer marked the most expensive transfer in Egyptian football history, once again failed to justify the sum paid for his services with a subdued display.

Degla's 43-year-old keeper Essam El-Hadari, who is widely considered as one of the best guardians in Egypt's history, was on alert to smother some half-chances for Ahly.

His best stop came three minutes before the break when he tipped over a powerful shot from Zakareya from inside the area.

Ahly remained the better side in the second half but a resolute Degla side largely kept them at bay, restricting them to some tame efforts including a volley from Sobhi that went wide of the post on 76 minutes.

Degla's solitary chance before the last-gasp goal fell to Karim Mamdouh with four minutes remaining when he sped past Ahly's left-back Sabri Rahil following a breakaway but his shot from a tight angle was palmed away by keeper Sherif Ekramy.

Mapuku then scored a stunner following a carbon copy move, outpacing central defender Rami Rabia down the right flank to break clear and fire a low shot under the hands of Ekramy and into the net.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

Short link: