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Al Ahly fight off fierce Merrikh resistance to obtain important CAFCL victory

It seemed like reigning CAF Champions League holders Al Ahly were going to cruise comfortably to a home win against Al-Merrikh, but the Sudanese side produced an inspired comeback before the hosts snatched a late winner to move into second place in Group A. An own goal from Merrikh’s Mustafa Karshom in the 76th minute was the decisive moment for Ahly, who now hold destiny in their hands as they attempt to finish in a top-2 spot for qualification to the knockout stages.

Ahly came out determined to bounce back in their CAFCL campaign following a shock home defeat to South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns, and the Egyptian side seized the initiative early on. In the 2nd minute the hosts struck first when Percy Tau provided a well weighted through ball to find the run of Mohamed Sherif and last season’s Egyptian Premier League top scorer did excellently to finish low from a tight angle past Merrikh goalkeeper Monged Abuzaid.

The pressure continued from Ahly and they doubled their lead in the 34th minute when Sherif tallied again. Ahmed Abdelkader drove past a Merrikh defender on the left side of the penalty area and sent a low pass across to Sherif, who applied a calm finish past Abuzaid from eight yards out. A brilliant save in the 40th minute from Abuzaid prevented Sherif from completing a first half hat-trick and kept Merrikh in the match.

Just before halftime the visitors put the result in doubt courtesy of a quality team goal. Ramadan Agab was sent into the penalty area on the right wing and drew Ahly keeper Mohamed El Shenawy out before cutting back centrally, where Nigerian forward Tony Edjomariegwe finished past a couple of scrambling Ahly defenders to cut the lead in half.

Merrikh continued their momentum after the halftime break and produced a shock equalizer to send their traveling support into celebration. Emad Ali played a brilliant lofted ball into the Ahly box to find Elsamani Saadeldin, who smoothly controlled the ball before slotting past El Shenawy at his near post.

A draw for Ahly would have been disastrous, but the star-studded team regained their composure and pushed to get the lead back. Egypt national team members Amr El Soulia and Mohamed Magdy “Afsha” played a pass combination and El Soulia moved in on goal from the left wing before his attempted cross was deflected by Karshom past a helpless Abuzaid to restore Ahly’s lead, and the hosts were able to hold out comfortably for three precious points.

Highlights of the match are below. Ahly are now tied in second with Merrikh on four points with a difficult road matchup against Sundowns up next, who lead Group A on seven points.

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