Rampant Ahly close in on Champions League semis after beating Ghanas Chelsea 4-1
Winger Waild Soliman scored a second-half brace and dished out an assist as a rampant Ahly side crushed Ghana’s Berekum Chelsea 4-1 in Cairo to edge closer to a place in the African Champions League semi-final.
Ahly, playing at the Military Academy Stadium behind closed doors due to on-going security concerns in Egypt, made it three wins out of three in Group B. They are on top with nine points, five ahead of Chelsea and TP Mazembe of the DR Congo with three matches to go.
The Red Devils survived a disappointing day for Egyptian football after the national U-23 team bowed out of the London Olympic Games following a 3-0 defeat by Japan in the quarter-final before Zamalek slumped to a 2-0 loss to Mazembe in Lubumbashi.
Ahly’s win over Chelsea is likely to give Cairo rivals Zamalek, who have no points following three consecutive defeats, a lifeline in their bid to stage a comeback in the remaining three Group B games.
Two first-half goals from Abdallah El-Saied and defender Mohamed Naguib put Ahly in front before Emmanuel Clottey pulled one back on the stroke of halftime, converting a penalty to take his tally to 12 Champions League goals as he seeks to surpass Stephen Worghu’s 13-goal haul in 2007.
Chelsea’s left-back Richard Boateng was sent off before halftime for a second bookable offence, so was Ahly defender Wael Gomaa who was dismissed in the 63rd minute.
The lively Soliman added two goals in the second period, including a remarkable strike, to put the result beyond doubt as Ahly, the Champions League record holders with six titles, continue their bid to win their first accolade since 2008.
Ahly seemed not affected by the absence of veteran playmaker Mohamed Abou-Treika and striker Emad Meteb, who both took part in Egypt’s Olympic defeat by Japan.
They displayed their trademark smooth football in the first half, thanks to some neat interchange play between trio El-Saied, Mohamed Barakat and Walid Soliman, who supported lone striker and debutant Oussou Konan of the Ivory Coast.
They deservedly went ahead after 17 minutes when a precise pass from Konan found Soliman, who laid off the ball for the onrushing El-Saied to send a low shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
Naguib doubled the lead on 33 minutes with a towering header that struck the hands of the keeper and went in following a corner as Ahly looked on course for a comfortable win.
However, in-form striker Clottey kept Ahly defenders on their toes with his darting runs and physical prowess, maintaining his superb displays in Africa’s premier club competition.
Boateng was unlucky not to draw Chelsea level in the 37th minute when he weaved his way through the Ahly defence but his subsequent shot went high over from eight yards out.
Clottey made amends three minutes later when he coolly converted a penalty awarded after he was allegedly brought down by Ahly keeper Sherif Ekramy although television replays showed there was a minimal contact between both men.
Chelsea had Boateng sent off just before the break as he collected a second booking for hauling down Ahly’s winger Soliman.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Chelsea still looked solid in early stages of the second half although they barely created goal-scoring opportunities.
However, they failed to hold out for long although numbers were evened up when Ahly’s combative defender Gomaa received his marching orders for a second bookable offence three minutes past the hour mark.
Soliman added the third in style in the 67th minute. With his back to goal, he chested a fine Barakat pass, lifted the ball past his marker with his left foot before it touches the ground, turned and rifled a powerful volley that left the keeper with no chance.
He wrapped up the win five minutes later, volleying a Barakat cross into an empty net following some neat work between the latter and midfielder Hossam Ghaly on the right flank.
Ministers in Prime Minister Hisham Qandil's cabinet following the recent reshuffle (new appointees are in italics): 1. Minister of Agriculture Ahmed Mahmoud Ali El-Gizawi2. Minister of Antiquities Ahmed Eissa3. Minister of Aviation Wael Maadawi4. Minister of Communication Atef Helmy5. Minister of Culture
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