Ahly hold ‘Downs, advance into semifinals

Ahly hold ‘Downs, advance into semifinals
Yasser Ibrahim El Hanafi of Al Ahly celebrates goal with teammates during the 2021 CAF Champions League quarterfinal football match between Sundowns and Al Ahly at Lucas Moripe Stadium, Pretoria, South Africa on 22 May 2021 ©BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Saturday May 22, 2021. 17:07

Al Ahly have moved into the semifinals of the CAF Champions League after a 1-1 draw away to Mamelodi Sundowns at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Tshwane on Saturday afternoon.

The result, added to the first-leg which ended 2-0 in favour of the Red Devils, saw the defending champions win the tie 3-1 on aggregate and move a step closer to becoming the first club to win 10 continental crowns.

Ahly were allowed to settle into the game and struck a major blow in just the 11th minute, with Yasser Ibrahim putting them 1-0 up on the day and 3-0 overall. Amr El Soulia got a flick on from a corner kick and Ibrahim nodded the ball home at the far post to put the defending champions in total control of the tie.

Sundowns gradually found their attacking rhythm and were rewarded with a goal on the half-hour mark, as a short corner kick routine saw Aubrey Modiba whip an in-swinging cross into the danger area, allowing Mosa Lebusa to power a header past goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy to make it 1-1 on the day.

The Brazilians were clearly buoyed by their goal and set up camp in Ahly’s territory for almost all of the remainder of the first half, though clear chances were hard to come by against the Red Devils’ well-drilled defence, leaving the teams level heading into the interval.

Sundowns made a double change nine minutes after the restart, with one of their substitutes, Mauricio Affonso, almost making an immediate impact with a header from a free kick which called El Shenawy into action.

Further attacking changes for the hosts saw Kermit Erasmus and Gift Motupa introduced in the 65th minute, and ‘Downs had a goal disallowed soon after, with Peter Shaluile adjudged to have handled before putting his low shot beyond the ‘keeper.

Sundowns had further attacking chances to try and put some nerves into the Ahly ranks, but a couple of smart saves from El Shenawy and a lack of precision in terms of finishing ensured that the hosts were left frustrated by the final whistle.

Al Ahly will face either CR Belouizdad or Esperance de Tunis in the semifinals next month. CRB take a 2-0 lead into their second-leg clash away to EST later this evening.

Mamelodi Sundowns (1) 1 (Lebusa 30’)

Al Ahly (1) 1 (Ibrahim 11’) – Al Ahly won 3-1 on aggregate

Sundowns: D. Onyango, Nascimento (Erasmus 65’), Coetzee, Lebusa, Morena (Mudau 54’), Mkhulise, Jali, Modiba (Lakay 73’), Sirino (Affonso 54’), Zwane (Motupa 65’), Shalulile

Ahly: El Shenawy, Hany, El Hanafi, Banoun, Ashraf, Kafsha (El Shahat 77’), Dieng, El Soulia, Rabia, Sherif (Ajayi 72’), Mohsen (Taher 59’)

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