CAIRO: Despite playing with nine men for around 27 minutes, Arab Contractors held title holders Ahly to a goalless draw at home in the Egyptian League on Saturday.
Eighteen minutes after the break, Contractors had just nine players on the pitch. Osama Al-Sayed and Mohamed Gamal were sent off.
Despite their numerical advantage, Ahly failed in their attempts to score a valuable winner.
The Red Devils themselves finished with 10 men as Mohamed Samir received his marching orders one minute from time.
The surprising poor start of Ahly, who won the league four successive times prior to this season, leaves them in sixth place on four points.
Contractors also have four points but they lie seventh due to their inferior goal difference to Ahly.
Manuel Jose left Ahly’s key playmaker Mohamed Abou-Trika on the bench.
Ahly struggled in the first half without their influential star as their efforts lacked creativity.
Forgotten striker Ahmed Belal was given a rare starting berth, filling in for Egypt international Emad Meteb, who joined Ittihad Jeddah on a season-long loan.
Ahly dominated possession in the early stages but struggled to prize a way through a disciplined Contractors side.
The visitors first chance came after ten minutes when Flavio Amado s cross-come-shot struck the crossbar.
Contractors had the upper hand afterwards, pushing forward in a bid to stun the Red Devils.
Their best chance fell to Salah Amin Maradona seven minutes before the break.
Al-Sayed collected Sayed Moawad s misplaced pass on the right before cutting the ball back to Maradona but Amir Abdul-Hamid palmed away his close-range shot.
Belal came close to breaking the deadlock few moments later but his long-range shot narrowly missed the target.
Talented winger Al-Sayed was dismissed just before the break after collecting a second booking for diving.
Ahly, with the help of Abou-Trika, who was introduced at halftime, capitalized on their numerical advantage to launch raids on Contractors goal.
Mohamed Barakat s volley four minutes after restart was blocked by Contractors keeper Mohamed Al-Akabawi.
In the 59th minute, Abou-Trika tried his luck with a low shot but it went just wide of the post.
Contractors were dealt further blow when Gamal received his marching orders for a second bookable offense in the 63rd minute.
But the hosts battled with nine men on the field to deny Ahly on several occasions.
Ahly wasted a host of clear-cut chances, including an effort from Flavio while the goal was gaping, but he blasted it astonishingly wide.
Samir also came close to ending Contractors resistance when he rose unmarked to meet a left-wing cross with a header that went just wide.
But contractors held on to claim a precious draw.