Wasteful Ahly held to 2-2 home draw by Vita Club as Group A race heats up

Hatem Maher , Saturday 6 Mar 2021

Ahly and Vita Club are level on four points before they meet again in Kinshasa later this month

Ahly v Vita Club
Ahly concede a late goal to draw 2-2 at home to Vita Club in the Champions League (Ahram)

Ahly wasted almost a dozen scoring chances and just when they ended their jinx with two quick-fire goals, they were undone by a late controversial penalty to settle for a 2-2 draw at home to Vita Club in a see-saw African Champions League game on Saturday.

Ricky Tulengi fired home a spot kick with 10 minutes remaining to earn DR Congo's Vita Club a famous draw at the Cairo fortress of the record nine-time African champions after Moroccan referee Redouane Jiyed penalised Amr El-Sulaya for a minimal contact with Merveille Kikasa.

A share of spoils was barely deserved for Vita Club, who showed some attacking spark but their backline was sliced open far too easily as Ahly spurned a plethora of clear-cut chances, including a goal-bound shot and two efforts that came back off the woodwork, with Congolese striker Walter Bwalya the main culprit.

Makabi Lilepo took Ahly by surprise when he scored against the run of play four minutes before the break after a fine individual effort.

The Red Devils launched a wave after wave of attacks but only found the net when strike duo Mohamed Sherif and Marwan Mohsen came off the bench in the second half.

Sherif ended Vita Club's resistance with a poacher's goal on 69 minutes and Mohsen put Ahly ahead two minutes later as Ahly finally made their dominance count.

But Tulengi's late penalty spoiled their celebrations and put Vita Club in a position where they can challenge their illustrious opponents for one of Group A's two tickets to the knockout phase.

Surprise package Simba of Tanzania, who stunned Ahly with a 1-0 win in the previous round, top the group with seven points from three matches, three clear of Ahly and Vita Club, whose next duel in Kinshasa later this month could prove decisive.

Sudan's Al Merreikh lie at the bottom after collecting only one point.  

Ahly's dominance

Ahly lost left-back Mahmoud Wahid to injury early in the game, with Yasser Ibrahim replacing him and Ayman Ashraf moving from the center of defence to the flank.

Asrhaf's inviting crosses caused constant menace, with one of them finding playmaker Magdi Afsha unmarked but keeper Simon Omossola saved his bouncing header.

Afsha also sent a low shot just wide from inside the area shortly after and lone striker Bwalya headed over the bar after outjumping his marker.

Ahly then squandered two glorious chances amid their incessant pressure.

A close-range volley from midfielder Amr El-Sulaya was cleared off the line by Michael Ayitshela in the 33rd minute and, moments later, a sliding effort from Bwalya was denied by the post from two yards out after a mis-hit shot from El-Sulaya found him.

Lilepo then stunned Ahly with a goal that came out of nowhere in the 41st minute.

He picked up the ball in space on the right flank, cut inside Ashraf and hit a low shot that was pushed by keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi, with Lilepo reacting the quickest to slot the rebound into the bottom corner.

Ahly continued to overwhelm their opponents with a relentless onslaught in the second half.

Bwalya fired high over with the goal at his mercy after a threaded pass from El-Sulaya put him through and Moroccan defender Badr Benoun had a header pushed by Omossola onto the post.

Omossola pulled off a string of other saves but was finally beaten in the 69th minute as Ahly went level.

Sherif fed Junior Ajayi in the area, with the Nigerian forward skipping past his marker and firing against the post at the near post. The ball then fell to Sherif to bury it into an empty net.

Mohsen added the second when he stole ahead of a defender and stabbed a pinpoint Afsha cross into the far corner with his first touch after coming on, but an Ahly victory was not meant to be as Tulengi had the last word.

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