Ahly go six points clear in Egyptian League after comeback win against Ragaa

Al Ahram

Defending champions Ahly scored three times in a glittering second half performance to beat bottom-side Ragaa 3-1 on Tuesday and open a six-point lead at the top of the Egyptian Premier League. Nasser Hamada opened the scoring for Ragaa in the 40th minute, but Walid Azaro and Bassem Ali scored in quick fire succession on 51 and 59 minutes before Eslam Mohareb put the game beyond reach in the 73rd minute.

Ahly are now leading the table with 48 points and have played one game less than second-placed Ismaily, who they will face on Tuesday in a clash that could settle this season’s title race. Hossam El-Badry’s men started the game in a confident mood, maybe too confident, and didn’t seem to be in a rush to grab a goal.

Ahly players – who dominated possession as usual - were sluggish upfront, failing to slice open Ragaa’s packed defence in a first-half with few goal-scoring opportunities. Amr El-Sulaya and Abdallah El-Said had two goals ruled offside.

Hosts Ragaa, who lay at the bottom of the table with 12 points after 20 games, had the better of this first half and went 1-0 up thanks to some poor defending from Ahly. Hamada was sent clear on target after skipping past defenders Ayman Ashraf and Mohamed Hani to slot the ball home past keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi.

However, Ahly came more organised and determined after the interval, and Moroccan striker Azaro got the equaliser six minutes into the second period. After a fine exchange of passes, Nigerian striker Junior Ajayi sent a neat pass to Azaro behind the defence line to score at the near post from close range.

Eight minutes later, El-Said sent a long pass to right-back Bassem Ali, who volleyed from inside the box into the roof of the net, making it 2-1. Ahly totally took control of the game against Ragaa, who couldn’t push forward to grab the equaliser. Ali, who went unstoppably up and down on the right flank, turned from scorer to provider when he set up second half substitute Mohareb on the edge of the area to fire the third and secure the full points of the game.