Mahalla-Ahly league game called off after pitch invasion

Hatem Maher, Saturday 31 Dec 2011

The first pitch invasion of the season forces the abandonment of Ghazl Mahalla’s league game at home to defending champions Ahly

Mahalla V Ahly
Police forces step onto the pitch to protect visiting fans after the home supporters invaded the pitch

Ahly’s Egyptian Premier League game away to Ghazl Mahalla was called off in the second half after hundreds of the home fans stormed the pitch after a controversial own goal was allowed to stand by the referee.

Mahalla were leading 2-1 when defender Amr Ramadan converted a cross from Ahly’s Walid Soliman into his own net nine minutes after the restart.

However, Ramadan’s effort pierced the net, making it difficult to verify whether the ball really went in at first sight.

Yasser allowed the goal to stand, sparking a furious reaction from Mahalla players and fans, hundreds of whom invaded the pitch.

The referee and his assistants were quickly escorted into the tunnel by security personnel to avoid possible confrontation with the angry supporters, who ran the length of the pitch to hurl stones at Ahly fans.

The police and military forces then intervened, forcing Mahalla’s fans to retreat before forming a line across the pitch to separate the two sides.

It was the first time a pitch invasion occurs this term in a largely peaceful early stage of the league.

Similar incidents took place in the second half of last season in the wake of January’s revolution, and several matches were played behind closed doors as a result of fan riots.

Ahly are expected to be awarded a win while promoted Mahalla, whose first league match of the season against Masry also witnessed crowd troubles, are likely to face stiff sanctions.

Incomplete match

Ahly piled on pressure in the early stages and were unlucky not to go ahead after 21 minutes when a far-post header by central defender Ahmed El-Sayed went across the six-yard box.

Although Ahly had the better possession, their fragile three-man backline was exposed two minutes later as Mahalla scored against the run of play.

The defence failed to clear a left-wing cross from Saad Mando, allowing winger Ahmed Magdy to head goalwards.  Ghanaian striker Samuel Owusu intercepted the ball to head past the wrong-footed keeper from close range.

Referee Yasser Raouf allowed the goal to stand although Mando appeared to have used his arm to control the ball in the build up.

Owusu doubled Mahalla’s lead in the 27th minute when he outpaced Ahly sweeper Hossam Ghaly to break clear and chip the ball over the advancing keeper and into the net.

Ahly narrowed the gap in the 38th minute when substitute Mohamed Barakat, who had been on the pitch for just four minutes, escaped his marker to slot home a pinpoint cross from right-back Ahmed Fathi.

Ramadan then scored an own goal in the 54th minute and the unfortunate pitch invasion ensued.

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