Egypt's Ahly back on track after surviving Merreikh scare in CL

Hatem Maher , Saturday 5 Mar 2022

Egypt's Ahly survived a spirited comeback from Sudanese giants Al-Merreikh to claim a precious 3-2 home win on Saturday and bring their African Champions League campaign back on track after a poor start to Group A.

Ahly midfielder Amr El Sulaya celebrates after scoring his team's third goal against Merreikh of Sudan (Photo courtesy of Al-Ahly Twitter account).

The Red Devils looked to be cruising at Cairo's Al-Salam Stadium when striker Mohamed Sherif, who has recently regained his form after some below-par displays, scored twice to put them 2-0 up.

However, goals from Nigerian forward Tony Edjomariegwe and Alsamany Alsawy either side of the break stunned the home crowd as Al-Merreikh  threatened to cause an upset and further dent the reigning champions' hopes.

But Ahly had the last word when a fortuitous goal from midfielder Amr El-Sulaya, helped by a big deflection off defender Mostafa Karshom, 14 minutes from time gave them their first win in three Group A matches.

Ahly, who opened their group-stage campaign with a 0-0 draw away to Sudan's Al-Hilal before suffering a surprise 1-0 home loss to South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns, moved level on four points with Al-Merreikh.

Sundowns top the group with seven points while Al-Hilal lie at the bottom with a solitary point. Ahly meet Sundowns away from home next weekend, with Al-Hilal hosting Al-Merrekh in Omdurman.

Double salvo  

Sherif opened the scoring as early as the third minute with a superb finish, sneaking between two defenders to run onto a through ball from Percy Tau and drill a low shot into the far bottom corner from a tight angle.

Al-Merreikh had a chance to equalise midway through the first half when a curling shot from Emad Alsini went just wide but the lively Sherif found the net again to double Ahly's lead on 34 minutes.

Talented winger Ahmed Abdel-Kader dribbled past his challenger on the left and cut the ball back to the lurking Sherif, who made no mistake with a first-timer.

Ahly were in total control and Sherif was denied a hat-trick when Al-Merreikh keeper Monged Elneel pulled off a brilliant save to smother his volley.

However, the visitors scored against the run of play two minutes before the break to narrow the gap.

Alsamany Alsawy slipped a pass to Ramadan Agab and, with keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi trying to close him down on the right hand side of the area, he pulled the ball back to the unmarked Edjomariegwe to side-foot the ball into an empty net.

In a fast-paced second half, Ahly had some half-chances to restore their two-goal cushion but they were taken aback when another defensive lapse and an unusual poor stop from El-Shennawi cost them on 69 minutes.

Emad Alsini floated in a cross from the left and Alsawy escaped the attention of Egyptian international defender Mohamed Abdel-Moneim to beat El-Shennawi at his near post, with the keeper rooted to the spot.

A famous draw was not meant to be, however, as El-Sulaya exchanged passes with Magdi Afsha to hold off a defender before his shot struck the sliding Karshom and looped into the net.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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