CAIRO: Geddo’s acrobatic first-half effort gave Ahly a hard-fought 1-0 victory at Petrojet that allayed their African woes despite a lackluster performance in Wednesday’s Egyptian Premier League game.
The Red Devils secured a morale-boosting victory after exiting the African Champions League at the hands of Tunisia’s Esperance last week, albeit in an unconvincing fashion.
Natural deep-lying forward Geddo, playing on his own upfront due to the absence of injured trio Francis Doe, Mohamed Fadl and Osama Hosni, notched the winner on 19 minutes.
Ahly survived a Petrojet onslaught in the second half to emerge winners for the fourth time in six matches and maintain their unbeaten run against the petroleum side.
The defending champions, who eye a seventh consecutive league title, moved into third spot in the table with 14 points, just one behind leaders and surprise package Police Union who played a game more.
The inconsistent Petrojet, whose coach Helmi Toulan enthusiastically celebrated an apparent equalizer towards the end only to see a Mahmoud Samna effort correctly disallowed for offside, lie seventh on 12 points from nine games.
Forgotten striker Mohamed Ghaddar, who arrived in the close season, was expected to play given that he was Ahly’s only recognized striker but coach Hossam Al-Badri once again snubbed him.
Geddo shouldered the responsibility of finishing off Ahly’s attacking moves with the support of Mohamed Barakat and Mohamed Abou-Trika.
Al-Badri vowed to make some changes to his starting 11 following Ahly’s Champions League elimination but he stuck to the familiar faces, who were lively in the first half but looked to have run out of gas in the second.
Ahly needed 19 minutes to grab a deserved lead after mounting early pressure.
A miscued defensive clearance fell to Barakat, who found Geddo with a precise cross and the former Ittihad man made no mistake with a fine side-footed shot.
Ahly almost added the second in the 34th minute when Petrojet defender Sherif Hazem inadvertently headed a cross past his own keeper but he atoned for his mistake after making a goal-line clearance.
Petrojet laid siege to Ahly’s area in the second half and were unlucky not to level the score on several occasions.
Ahly defenders Wael Gomaa and Sherif Abdul-Fadil were rock solid at the back but the sluggishness of the team’s three midfielders allowed Petrojet to keep the ball under their control for the majority of the period.
The visitors’ keeper Sherif Ekrami also appeared shaky, failing to handle some innocuous crosses from Petrojet wingers.
Petrojet midfielder Kamal Ali curled a delightful shot that was denied by the post nine minutes after the restart.
Ahly also needed two last-ditch clearances from left-back Sayed Moawad to keep their lead intact.
Abou-Trika, who was a peripheral figure, was replaced with former Ghazl Mahalla attacking midfielder Abdul-Hamid Shabana as Al-Badri sought to inject zeal.
However, Petrojet continued to dominate possession and threaten Ekrami.
A header from substitute Marouane Mohsen narrowly missed the target while defender Samna hit the side netting from close range.
Ahly held on despite Petrojet’s sustained pressure to avoid a draw that would have increased pressure on beleaguered coach Al-Badri.