Ahly s forward Percy Tau reacts after scoring the fourth goal during the CAF Champions League semi-final match between Egypt s Ahly and Algeria s ES Setif at the al-Salam stadium in Cairo on May 7, 2022 (AFP)
In a one-sided first-leg affair, Ahly sliced open Setif's defence far too easily, hitting the woodwork twice and having an early goal disallowed even before taking the lead via a header from South African forward Tau on the half-hour mark.
Setif had midfielder Amir Karaoui sent off for a reckless challenge on Hussein El-Shahat's ankle as the visitors' hopes of getting something from the game were dealt a blow.
Ethiopian referee Bamlak Tessema initially brandished a yellow card but changed it to a straight red after checking a video replay.
Ahly then put their opponents to the sword with a ruthless second-half display, with Tau setting up winger Taher Mohamed Taher for a second, substitute Mohamed Sherif for a third and completing the rout himself in stoppage time.
The former Brighton forward, who had a hand in all four goals after producing a man-of-the-match display, is staking his claim for a regular spot after some recent uninspiring performances had some fans questioning his signing.
Ahly are likely to seal passage to a third consecutive final when they face Setif away from home in the second leg next Saturday as they seek to become the first side to win a hat-trick of straight Champions League crowns.
Ahly created chances at will in a dominant first-half display, going close three times before taking a deserved lead.
They were denied an early opener when Taher's shot on the turn was disallowed for offside following a VAR review but they continued to launch a wave after wave of attacks as Setif struggled to contain their energetic forwards.
Tau drilled just wide after dribbling past a challenger on the edge of the area, playmaker Ahmed Abdel-Kader struck the crossbar with a half-volley and El-Shahat rattled the post with a curling shot in the space of three minutes.
It was only a matter of time until Ahly duly opened the scoring, Tau beating the keeper with a scrappy close-range header after being found unmarked by a left-wing cross from Taher on 30 minutes.
Karaoui's 35th-minute dismissal further emboldened Ahly, although Setif created a rare chance on the stroke of halftime when a free kick eluded a crowd of defenders and found Hicham Belkaroui at the far post, only to miss the target from a good scoring position.
Tau returned the favour to Taher to double Ahly's lead in the 54th minute, heading home from close range after a cross from the 27-year-old deflected off two defenders and looped into his path.
Sherif made an instant impact after coming off the bench, adding the third on 72 minutes after finishing off a flowing three-man move.
Tau collected a ball from Tunisian left-back Ali Maaloul and slipped a superb pass to Sherif with the outside of his boot to send a cheeky, angled lob over the keeper and into the net.
The South African then capped his efforts with a simple finish from a Mohamed Hani cross in the 90th minute as Ahly claimed a comprehensive win to put one foot in the final.
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