Ahly defender Rami Rabia heading a set-piece (Photo: Ahram)
A stoppage-time strike from winter-signing Amr Barakat ensured Ahly booked a berth in the Arab Championship semis following a comeback 2-1 victory over Algeria’s NA Hussein Dey at Cairo’s Al-Salam Stadium on Friday.
In a game where Ahly had no other option but to win, the Algerians took the lead two minutes after the half-hour mark when keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi failed to properly block a shot from Mohamed Boulaouidet from outside the area.
But a penalty that was successfully converted by Saleh Gomaa got Ahly back into the game, before substitute Amr Barakat hit the all-important goal in the third minute of stoppage time following a perfect layoff from veteran striker Emad Meteb.
With them securing their second win of the group stage, the Cairo giants now moved second of Group A, joining leaders Al-Faisaly and Tunisia’s Esperance in the semis.
Ahly control, fail to score
Ahly were the side in control inside the first half, with NA Hussein Dey leaving possession to the Cairo side’s backline while camping inside their own half.
Moroccan striker Walid Azaro came close in the 29th minute when he latched onto a through ball before eventually seeing his desperate effort cleared away by the Algerian defense from inside the six-yard box in front of an empty goal.
Winger Ahmed Hamoudi saw a brilliant strike go narrowly of the post eight minutes later, after making a superb turn before shooting from outside the area.
And with just few minutes remaining till the end of the first half, another forward in Junior Ajayi was blocked this time by the keeper - as Ahly went into the dressing rooms nil-nil.
Azaro should have given the Cairo giants the lead early in the second half when he blasted high over the bar when facing the goal from inside the box, missing his side’s most dangerous chance so far.
Ahly had to pay for the miss in the 62nd minute, after midfielder Akram Tawfik was guilty of an ill-fated pass that eventually saw Boulaouidet strike from near the edge of the box, with keeper El-Shennawi guilty of allowing the ball go into his net.
The Reds then equalized in the 74th minute through Gomaa from the spot after striker Azaro was adjudged by the ref to have been fouled inside the area – a decision that sparked protests from the Algerian team.
Manager Hossam El-Badry then brought on playmaker Barakat in the place of left-back Hussein El-Sayed, as the talented forward, who also scored in the 2-0 win over Weheda, eventually rewarded his manager.
Azaro received the ball down the left handside of the area before feeding Meteb who brilliantly spotted Barakat behind as the latter found the back of the net with a powerful shot from nearly 12 yards to spark huge celebrations from the home fans.
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