Defending champions Ahly were held to a surprise 0-0 draw by the National Bank of Egypt (NBE) on Sunday after the Egyptian Premier League debutants produced a spirited defensive display in Alexandria.
At a rain-soaked stadium, Ahly laid siege to NBE's area for almost the entire game but the minnows held on for a memorable draw against their illustrious opponents, who are eyeing a sixth straight league triumph.
Ahly, who claimed some comprehensive wins in the early stages of the season, remain top with 17 points despite being held to their second draw in seven matches, but perennial Cairo rivals Zamalek can leapfrog them if they beat Gouna on Tuesday.
NBE lie 11th in the table with eight points from eight matches.
Ahly started without a recognized striker, with veteran winger Walid Soliman spearheading their attack. However, an out-and-out frontman was soon introduced as Walter Bwalya replaced Soliman after the latter picked up an injury.
The Red Devils applied intense pressure in the first half, mounting an onslaught to NBE's area that did not pay off.
Despite dominating possession, Ahly were largely restricted to some long-range efforts, including shots from Hamdi Fathi, Walid Soliman and Aliou Dieng that narrowly missed the target.
Their best first-half chance fell to Moroccan defender Badr Benoun, whose bouncing header went just over the crossbar.
Experienced striker Ahmed Ali created NBE's solitary goal-scoring chance in the 49th minute, with his sliding effort going just wide after a right-wing cross.
Ahly quickly reassumed control, going close on several occasions as NBE defended with 10 men behind the ball.
Ayman Ashraf thought he had put Ahly in front on 59 minutes when he headed home from the goal-line after a shot struck the bar and fell to him, but the goal was disallowed following a VAR review as the referee adjudged the central defender to have committed a foul on an opponent when he jumped.
Substitute Mohamed Sherif missed the target with an angled shot following a deft pass and Congolese Bwalya, who has yet to open his account following his January arrival, sent a free header over the bar as Ahly failed to break down NBE's massed ranks.
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