Title holders Ahly of Egypt tasted their heaviest home defeat in the African Champions League after slumping to a stunning 3-0 loss to South Africa’s Orlando Pirates in the Red Sea resort of El-Gouna on Sunday.
Playing in El-Gouna’s searing heat while fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a lethargic Ahly side were undone by goals from Thandani Ntshumayelo, Andile Jali (penalty) and Sifiso Myeni.
They also paid for the dismissal of lone striker Ahmed Abdel-Zaher, who received a red card for a reckless tackle an on opponent just before the interval.
The Red Devils’ home defeat the hands of Orlando Pirates is also their first since they lost 3-1 to Tunisia's Etoile Sahel in the second leg of the 2007 Champions League final in Cairo.
Sunday’s match was played behind closed doors due to a four-game crowd ban imposed by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) on Ahly in the wake of fan trouble during a preliminary-round match against Kenya's Tusker.
Orlando Pirates top Group A with four points, ahead of second-placed AC Leopards on goal difference after the Congolese outfit beat Zamalek 1-0.
Cairo rivals Ahly and Zamalek have one point each after playing out a 1-1 draw in their opening group-stage game, which was also played in El-Gouna.
Orlando Pirates took a surprising lead after 11 minutes when Ntshumayelo capitalized on some sloppy defending from Ahly’s central defender Saad Samir and left-back Ahmed Shedid. He neatly exchanged passes with a teammate to break clear and beat the keeper at the near post with a low shot.
A sluggish Ahly frontline hardly troubled the visitors’ defence, with the only genuine chance from open play falling to Abdel-Zaher on 17 minutes.
The 28-year-old, who has yet to prove his worth after joining from ENPPI last January, had his low shot cleared off the line by a defender after a right-wing cross caught the keeper napping.
Veteran playmaker Mohamed Abou-Treika won a penalty seven minutes before the break but Walid Soliman’s weak effort was saved by the keeper and Ahly’s task was further complicated when Abdel-Zaher received his marching orders for a clumsy two-footed lunge on an opponent on the stroke of halftime.
Orlando Pirates tore Ahly to shreds in a second half they completely dominated, outplaying their illustrious opponents and repeatedly exposing the huge gaps in their shaky backline.
Jali doubled the visitors’ lead after dispatching a penalty in the 73rd minute before superbly setting up Myeni for the third three minutes later.
Myeni latched onto a chipped pass from Jali to surge clear, elude a tame challenge by keeper Sherif Ekramy and slot into an empty net.
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