CAIRO: Ahly came back from behind to salvage a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Military Production in the Egyptian Premier League on Monday.
A late strike from Mohamed Abou-Trika sealed the points for the Reds in an action-packed second half, which saw Mohamed Fadl cancel out Production’s opener by Mohamed Abd-Rabou ‘Felix’.
The league holders moved to third place after claiming their 11th point. They are now one point behind leaders Police Union with a game in hand.
Production, who started the season with three straight wins, slipped to seventh place with 10 points, taking their winless streak to four matches.
Once again Ahly started with Sherif Abdul-Fadil at left-back in place of the injured Sayed Moawad, while striker Francis Doe returned to the starting line-up.
Mohamed Barakat and Mohamed Talaat were not risked on artificial turf in anticipation of Friday’s Champions League semi-final against Esperance.
The first half has been hardly a contest, with a couple of tame shots on target at both ends.
It all blew up after the break when the hosts took the lead on 51 minutes, shortly after Hossam Ghaly had missed a free header from close range at the other end.
Set piece specialist Gomaa Mashour whipped in an inviting free kick that was superbly flicked by former Ahly youngster Felix into Sherif Ekrami’s net.
Production did little to preserve their slender lead as the Red Devils got their equalizer before the hour mark with a cracker from Fadl.
The towering striker followed a loose ball outside the area before unleashing an unstoppable half-volley past Nader Saad in what could be a contender for goal of the season.
Four minutes later, Doe beat Saad with a delicate chip, only for center-half Hazem Fathi to clear off the line.
Ahly maintained their stranglehold and were once again thwarted by a valiant last-man-saving clearance. This time Ahmed Zaghloul denied Ahmed Shokri on the goal line.
The one-way traffic continued as Doe was unlucky to see his powerful shot from range rattle the left post.
Production’s best chance of the half came eight minutes from the end when Mashour tested Ekrami with a clever free kick, but the Ahly keeper parried away brilliantly.
Four minutes from time, Production keeper Saad made the save of the match to deny Ahly substitute Abdul-Hamid Shabana’s lobbing header.
However, the resulting corner reached the ruthless Abou-Trika, who dispatched an overhead kick from point-blank range, following some disorder inside the area.
The hosts were reduced to ten men on 88 minutes when sweeper Bahaa Ahmed was sent off for a professional foul on the lively Shabana.
Trika almost made it three from the ensuing free kick, but was denied by the fingertips of Saad, who also needed some help from the woodwork.
The busy Saad came to his side’s rescue once again when he parried away Moataz Eno’s long-range effort.
Finally, Doe thought he had scored his first goal of the season, but his well-taken header was ruled out as he was adjudged to have fouled a defender in the process.