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Egypt's Ahly reach African Champions League semis after draw at Sundowns

Ahram Online , Saturday 7 Mar 2020
Mamelodi Sundowns' forward Sibusiso Vilakazi (C) fights for the ball with Al-Ahly's defender Yasser Ibrahim (R) and Al-Ahly's defender Ramy Moustafa (L) during the CAF Champions League Quarter-final second leg match between South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns and Egypt's Al-Ahly at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville on March 7, 2020. (Photo AFP)

Egyptian giants Ahly got a taste of revenge as they held Mamelodi Sundowns to a 1-1 draw in Pretoria on Saturday to reach the semi-finals of the African Champions League on a 3-1 aggregate win.

The record eight-time African Champions managed to eliminate the team that humiliated them last year in the same round with a historic 5-0 win, Ahly's worst ever African defeat, in Pretoria.

Lebohang Maboe scored in his own net in the 21st minute before Uruguayan forward Gaston Sirino gave Sundowns a glimmer of hope in the 26th minute, but that wasn't enough for them to get anything out of the tie.

Ahly will now face the winner of Wydad Casablanca of Morocco and Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia, who play later on Saturday. Wydad hold a 2-0 first leg advantage.

Coach Rene Weiler adopted a more cautious approach as he opted for a 4-3-3 formation instead of his usual 4-2-3-1 scheme, with Mahmoud Metwalli playing as a deep holding midfielder in front of his defence.

The South Africans could have gone ahead as early as the fourth minute when Sirino played a quick free kick to the unmarked Nascimento in the area but Ahly's keeper Mohamed El Shennawy rushed out of his goal to deny a clear chance.

After this early threat, the Red Devils gained control of the game with Geraldo, Ali Maaloul and Badji making some attempts on target.

They finally got what they deserved in the 21st minute when a free kick from the right side was deflected by Maboe into his own net.

However, Ahly could only defend their lead for five minutes as Nascimento sent a long pass to Zwane, who evaded his markers, only to be denied by El Shennawi from inside the box but the rebound fell to Sirino, who made no mistake in front of an empty net.

Sundowns mounted their pressure and Shennawy once again came to the rescue to deny Vilakaze's header from inside the box.

Ahly could have ended this half upfront as Amr El Sulaya dispossessed Madisha and went clear on target to set up Aliou Badji in the box but he was too sluggish and his attempt was foiled.

Coach Pisto Mosimane made two quick substitutions to increase his firepower as he brought in Tebego Langerman and Phakamani Mahlambi after the interval.

However, Ahly's compact defence contained Sundowns forwards, who had to resort to long range shots that were no trouble for keeper El Shennawy.

As they pressed forward, the South Africans left acres of spaces at the back and second half substitutes Hussein El Shahat and Mohamed Hani had a couple of chances to claim a late winner but they lacked imagination in the final third to end the game in a draw.

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