Al Ahly took a slender first-leg advantage after beating 10-man Raja of Morocco 2-1 at home in the African Champions League quarters on Saturday, although they may be left to rue a flurry of missed chances in an action-packed clash.
Raja keeper Anas Zniti produced a string of impressive saves to keep his side in the tie, with Ahly at times looking capable of securing a comprehensive win.
Ahly took an early lead via a controversial penalty from midfielder Amr El-Sulaya before winger Hussein El-Shahat, who made a rare start, doubled their advantage midway through the first half.
They were punished for their profligacy though when Raja’s lively midfielder Mohamed Zrida pulled one back on the stroke of halftime, netting from the team’s first real effort.
Raja, apparently aware that their high pressing strategy backfired in the first half, took a more cautious approach in the second period but their sloppy defending cost them once again when defender Marouane Hadhoudi received a straight red card for blocking a goal-bound shot with his arm.
However, it was not meant to be this time around as Zniti blocked El-Sulaya’s spot-kick and Raja then survived a barrage of Ahly attacks to keep alive their hopes of reaching the last four when the second leg takes place in Casablanca on Friday.
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