New arrival Shady Hussein scored his maiden goal a few minutes following his second-half introduction as Ahly kicked off their Egyptian Premier League campaign with a deserved 1-0 win over foes Ismaily on Wednesday.
Forward Hussein slotted into an empty net after being set up by fellow substitute Karim Fouad as Ahly grabbed their third win in as many games under new coach Marcel Koller, who also steered them to the African Champions League group stage with a 3-0 aggregate win over Tunisia’s US Monastir.
Against Ismaily, they were the better side throughout even though their opponents proved a tough nut to crack in their first match under Spanish coach Juan Garrido, an ex-Ahly manager.
Ahly finished with ten men after winger Taher Mohamed Taher received a straight red card three minutes into stoppage time for kicking out at an opponent in an off-the-ball challenge.
The Red Devils, who are looking to dethrone Zamalek after their Cairo rivals were crowned Egyptian champions for the past two seasons, had the upper hand in a fast-paced first half, going close on at least three occasions.
Ismaily defended doggedly but Ahly could have still gone ahead on 24 minutes when striker Mohamed Sherif sneaked in between two markers to latch onto a threaded pass from winger Ahmed Abdel-Kader.
His angled shot on the turn grazed the far post before Brazilian attacking midfielder Bruno Savio also came close with a powerful shot that narrowly missed the target in the 29th minute.
Ahly wasted two clear-cut chances in the second half as they piled on pressure.
Sherif sent a free header over the bar following an inviting cross from Taher, who himself was guilty of a glaring miss shortly after when he blasted high over with the goal at his mercy.
Ismaily’s solitary chance fell to striker Bassem Morsi, who failed to control a pinpoint long ball when well-positioned to score.
The breakthrough came in the 73rd minute when Fouad made a superb sliding tackle to catch a through pass from Magdi Afsha on the right hand side of the area and pull the ball back to the unmarked Hussein for an easy finish.