Sherif (L) celebrates one of his goals with teammate Hamdi Fathi (Photo: Ahram)
A double from red-hot striker Mohamed Sherif gave Ahly an impressive 4-1 comeback victory over Maqassa for their third straight Egyptian Premier League win on Sunday, less than a week before the anticipated African Champions League final.
Ahmed Moudi gave Maqassa a surprise lead after converting a penalty in the first half but Sherif equalised a few minutes later before adding a second with another poacher's effort two minutes past the hour mark.
He took his tally to 14 league goals this season, just one behind leading scorer Ahmed Yasser Rayyan, who plays for promoted Ceramica Cleopatra.
An own goal from Mohamed Desouki increased the gap and playmaker Magdi Afsha put the icing on the cake with a sublime effort in stoppage time, catching the keeper off position with a shot from the halfway line.
Ahly closed to within 10 points of leaders Zamalek with four games in hand. Should they win their rescheduled matches, they will overtake their perennial rivals with a two-point lead on top.
Barrage of attacks
Maqassa's open game allowed Ahly to launch a barrage of attacks early on, with keeper Mahmoud Hamdi smothering Afsha in a one-on-one and palming away a snap header from Sherif.
Ahly's Nigerian winger Junior Ajayi also blasted an angled volley wide with the goal at his mercy before Maqassa scored against the run of play on 34 minutes.
The referee pointed to the spot after a VAR review showed Ahly defender Ayman Ashraf clattering into Maqassa striker Bassem Morsi, with Moudi sending keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi the wrong way.
But Sherif soon brought Ahly level, outjumping his marker at the far post to head home an inviting cross from impressive left-back Ali Maaloul in the 39th minute.
It remained a one-way traffic in the second half, with Ahly overwhelming their feeble opponents with a series of attacks.
The Red Devils had two goals disallowed for offside and Sherif deservedly put them in front on 62 minutes, his looping header going over Hamdi and into the net after winger Hussein El-Shahat superbly found him with a first-time pass after a pinpoint long ball from Amr El-Sulaya.
Any hopes Maqassa had of restoring parity were extinguished in the 75th minute, with Sherif again at the heart of action.
He broke clear after a through pass but his shot was saved by Hamdi, only for the ball to bounce off Desouki and go in.
Afsha completed the rout with a wonderful goal as Ahly grabbed a morale-boosting victory before facing South Africa's Kaizer Chiefs in the anticipated Champions League final on Saturday.
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