CAIRO: Mohamed Abou Trika scored twice to lead Ahly’s comeback and give the league champions a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Harras Hodoud.
A first-half strike from Pape Latyr N’Diaye gave the visitors a one-nil lead, but the in-form Abou Trika made it four goals in three games with a second-half brace.
The Egypt talisman became one goal away from his 100th league goal in two spells with Tersana and Ahly.
Ahly moved to fifth place on 23 points, leveling with Ismaili, Police Union and ENPPI. Hodoud remain 10th with 17 points.
Ahly manager Abdul-Aziz Abdul-Shafi ‘Zizo’ gave 17-year-old Rami Hesham a surprise start, only one day after he signed his first professional contract.
Ahly started the better side and controlled possession in the first 20 minutes, but could only come close to Ali Farag’s goal with an Abou Trika freekick that was parried by the Hodoud keeper.
In the second half of the game, Hodoud were the side who dictated play as the home side looked nervous despite their crowd’s incessant support.
The goal came in the 34th minute when N’Diaye capitalized on a poor piece of goalkeeping from Mahmoud Aboul-Saoud.
The Ahly keeper failed to punch Ahmed Eid’s innocuous freekick as N’Diaye notched the loose ball into an empty net.
A few minutes later, the visitors almost doubled their lead through Ahmed Mekki, who was denied from seven yards by a brilliant save from Aboul-Saoud.
At the stroke of half-time came Ahly’s best chance of the half when Abou Trika’s volley was superbly saved by Farag.
Zizo introduced Mohamed Fadl at half time at the expense of the off-form Sherif Abdul-Fadil, moving Ahmed Fathi to the right.
The Reds needed one minute after the break to level things when Abou Trika beat Farag in the air and had Fadl to thank for hassling with two defenders as the ball slowly went into the net.
Ten minutes later, the quiet Geddo went one on one with Farag, only to miss the target inexplicably.
The game’s tempo was on the up as Ahmed Saied’s header hit the left post, much to the relief of Ahly who looked far more better than the first half.
The champions came close to doubling the lead when Sayed Moawad sent an inch-perfect cross into the six-yard box, but Geddo and Fadl bizarrely outmuscled each other to waste the chance.
In the 78th minute, Fadl won a clever penalty when he went down theatrically after the slightest of touches from Farag.
Abou Trika stepped up and almost blasted his penalty into Farag’s hands, but was relieved to see his powerful effort home for the priceless winner.
Hodoud took control of the match in search for the equalizer and substitute Mohamed Halim was through on goal, but was thwarted by Aboul-Saoud after a poor first touch let him down.
The league holders held on for the victory to hand manager Zizo his first three points.