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Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Egyptian champions Ahly held by resilient Esperance

Ahram Online , Friday 4 May 2018
Al Ahly SC's Ahmed Fathy in action with ES Tunis' Haythem Jouini. (REUTERS)

Eight-time African Champions Ahly were held on Friday, at home, by Esperance, another title contender, to a scoreless draw in the African Champions League group stage opener.

The Reds failed to capitalize on their domination, especially in the second half, and had a goal disallowed to go through their third game without a taste of victory.

The first half was a highly-contested and highly-physical game with both teams failing to impose their domination and blocking all spaces at the back.

Although, Ahly had the first sight of goal as early as in the 4th minute when South African winger Phakamani Mahlambi had latched on to a long ball from Walid Soliman to sprint clear past Houcine Rabii but he blasts the ball over the bar.

Midway through the half the Reds mounted a quick counter-attack with Marwan Mohsen alone in the area but his effort went wide.

Esperance created their first threat in the 43rd minute when Taha Khenessi dribbled past the last defender but his shot from a tight angle was blocked by keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi.

After the interval, Ahly improved and mounted more pressure on their rivals who sat back on defense.

The hosts had a golden chance when Mahlambi and Mohsen were clear on goal but the South African opted to shoot instead of passing to his unmarked teammate.

The highlight of the game came when Mohsen scored after meeting a fine cross by left-back Sabri Rahil but the referee ruled it offside. A very controversial decision as he video replay showed he was on side.

The game was going in one direction, towards the Tunisian keeper and the Egyptian Champions had several opportunities to grab the points of the game but the rivals had to share the points at the end of 90 minutes.

With one point each, Ahly and Esperance are behind group leaders Township Rollers who defeated Kampala City FC 1-0 on Friday.

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