10-man Ahly hold Pyramids FC, throwing Champions League race wide open

Ahram Online , Sunday 11 Oct 2020

Soccer Football - Egyptian Premier League - Pyramids FC v Al Ahly - Cairo International Stadium, Cairo, Egypt - October 11, 2020 Al Ahly's Mohamed Magdi Kafsha in action with Pyramids FC's Abdallah Bakri REUTERS

Egyptian champions Ahly had to play for over 50 minutes with 10 men but were able to hold second-placed Pyramids FC to a scoreless draw on Sunday, keeping alive Zamalek's hopes for qualifying for the CAF Champions League next season.

Pyramids FC are now second with 64 points, while Zamalek are just two points behind and one game less, with just two games remaining until the end of the season.

Both sides will be in a tight race to secure second place until the final minute of the season, which will seal an automatic spot in next season's Champions League edition.

The Red Devils, who have already secured their fifth consecutive title and their 42nd-ever title weeks ago with an unassailable 20-point lead, produced a solid performance despite losing their key midfielder Amr El-Sulaya just before the break, giving some confidence to their fans before their anticipated Champions League semi-final clash against Wydad of Casablanca next Saturday.

Ahly could have gained the lead as early as the sixth minute when Hussein El-Shahat broke clear after a wonderful through ball from Mohamed "Afsha" Magdi, but keeper El-Mahdi Soliman came to the rescue.

Injury-hit Ahly suffered another setback when Kahraba left the game after only nine minutes with a muscle injury to be replaced by Senegalese striker Aliou Badji, who had just returned from an ankle injury. It has not been yet determined the length of his absence.

After a shaky start, Pyramids FC were able to regain composure and create some danger as Mohamed Farouk powered a header next to the post, then Ahmed Ayman Mansour had a goal disallowed for offside.

It could only become worse for Ahly when midfielder El-Sulaya was shown a direct red card, after VAR review, in the 42nd minute after his elbow struck Mahmoud Hamada.

The reigning champions had a golden opportunity to get in the lead after being awarded a penalty kick following a handball from defender Abdallah Bakri in the area but Afsha's spotkick was blocked by Soliman.

Ahly may have had to defend for large parts of the second half, but they were disciplined at the back, allowing their rivals a few clear chances as the post denied Ibrahim Hassan's shot from 20 yards, and substitute striker Dodo Elgabas' header missed the goal after skipping his marker inside the six yards.

At the other end, Ahly's best chance was in the 75th minute when Afsha tried to redeem himself with a 35-yard shot, only to be denied by the post.

Ahly will have to count their losses after the game to check if Kahraba and Badji will be fit for Morocco's trip.

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