A rare blunder by goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shennawi led to Ahly's first loss of the Egyptian Premier League this season as they conceded a last-gasp goal in a 2-1 defeat by a lively Smouha side on Wednesday.
Just when defending champions Ahly poured forward en masse in search of a trademark late winner, they were given a taste of their own medicine as Smouha striker Hossam Hassan caught El-Shennawi, who had just recovered from a COVID-19 infection, out of position to score from almost the halfway line.
The towering El-Shennawi, Ahly's best performer in the past two seasons, originally advanced to the halfway line to send a long free-kick upfield.
His effort caused mayhem in the Smouha area but when the visitors cleared the danger, Hassan made the most of a long ball to hold off Akram Tawfik and Rami Rabia before lobbing the retreating El-Shennawi.
Mohamed Abdel-Halim gave Smouha a surprise lead after seven minutes after a fine team move but winger Hussein El-Shahat brought Ahly level in the 33rd minute.
Ahly's relentless second-half pressure failed to pay dividends, with Smouha's breakaways unsettling their advancing backline.
The Red Devils failed to build on their impressive 2-1 Cairo derby win over Zamalek on Sunday, giving the chance to their perennial rivals to pull six points clear on top if they beat bottom side El-Entag El-Harby on Thursday.
However, Ahly will overtake Zamalek with a three-point lead if they win their games in hand.
Ahly's in-form playmaker Magdi Afsha fired just wide with the goal at his mercy after racing clear as early the seventh minute but it was Smouha who took the lead four minutes later following a flowing move.
Ahmed Abdel-Kader, who is on loan from Ahly, jinked into the area after exchanging passes with a teammate, skipped past El-Sulaya near the byline and pulled the ball back to the onrushing Abdel-Halim, who made no mistake with a first-timer.
The onslaught Ahly mounted after they fell behind yielded a few clear chances but they still restored parity when a hesitant Smouha defender played El-Shahat onside to race clear and send a delicate ship over the keeper and into the net.
Ahly bombarded Smouha's goal with numerous shots in the second half and a glancing header from El-Sulaya came back off the woodwork as the Alexandria-based club punished them at the death to snatch a famous win.
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