Al Ahly survived a major scare to advance into the quarterfinals of the CAF Champions League with a 1-1 draw away to Al Hilal in Omdurman on Saturday night.
The result sees the Red Devils end in second place in Group B on 11 points and advance alongside pool winners Etoile du Sahel, who defeated FC Platinum in a concurrent game to claim first place and complete the final eight line-up.
The Blue Wave, meanwhile, exit the competition after finishing in third place.
Ahly looked calm and composed through the first half, while the hosts appeared the more nervous and under-pressure team in front of their home fans.
Nonetheless, the Egyptian club needed goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy to make a couple of important interventions to deny the likes of Bakhet Waleed and Emad Mohsin.
Ahly looked to use the pace and power of forwards Junior Ajayi and Marwan Mohsen, though they lacked the necessary precision to break down Hilal’s defence in the first half, leaving the game goalless at the break.
The Red Devils struck a crucial blow early in the second half, with Hussein El Shahat teeing up Mohamed Magdi Kafsha to send an effort beyond Hilal goalkeeper Jamal Salim and put the eight-time champions on course for the quarterfinals.
Hilal look to fight back and threw on attackers such as Mohamed Eldai and Abdelrazig Omer from their substitutes’ bench, but they were unable to make headway.
The hosts’ frustration boiled over in the stands and fans invaded the pitch, causing a halt to the game in which security forces surrounded the players and officials to protect them.
Thankfully order was restored and the match resumed, but Hilal seemingly had no answer to Ahly’s dominance. However, deep in injury time the Blue Wave found an equaliser through Omer to set up a tense finale.
Hilal threw everything they had at the visitors in the huge amount of time added due to the earlier pitch invasion, but Ahly just about managed to hang on and secure a place in the knockout rounds.
Al Hilal (0) 1 (Omer 90+6’)
Al Ahly (0) 1 (Kafsha 48’)
Hilal: Salim, Osman, Behaldeen (Abdalla Mamoun 58’), Nour, El Tahir, A. Mohamed, M. Mohamed, El Shighail, Saleem (Omer 73’), Waleed, Mohsin (Eldai 64’)
Ahly: El Shenawy, Hany, Rabia, El Hanafi, Ashraf, Soleya, Dieng, Kafsha (Soliman 68’), El Shahat, Mohsen (Badji 90+1’), Ajayi (Kahraba 89’)