CAIRO — Egyptian giants Al-Ahly started the new CAF Champions League campaign with big 3-0 win over Saint George of Ethiopia, taking a significant advantage into next week’s return leg of the round of 32.
Hussein el-Shahat’s brace and a late goal from Ahmed Abdelkader secured a scoreline.
From 2016, the Cairo Red Devils have won the competition three times, been runners-up three times, quarter-finalists once and failed to get beyond the group phase once.
Victory over Saint George came one week after a shock 1-0 loss to USM Alger of Algeria in Saudi Arabia in the CAF Super Cup.
Ahly coasted to victory despite lacking new signing Anthony Modeste, who is ineligible for the last-32 round, and suspended Moroccan Reda Slim.
The winners of 24 African titles across four competitions also missed defender Mahmoud Metwally and midfielder Amr el Sulaya due to injuries.
Koller chose three non-Egyptian starters — Tunisian defender Ali Maaloul, Malian midfielder Aliou Dieng and South African forward Percy Tau.
The match started with the Red Devils putting pressure on the opponent to open cracks in their defense.
After some uncomplete attempts, El-Shahat broke the deadlock with a fantastic goal. El Shahat received the ball in the left side, nutmegged the defender and calmly placed the ball into the far, bottom corner.
The Ethiopian side couldn’t recover after conceding the opening goal as our players kept pushing forward for the double but Ahly’s shots didn’t find the target.
In the second half, the Ethiopian goalkeeper picked the ball out of his net again after El Shahat completed a fantastic counter attack with a perfect finish to double the score.
Coach Marcel Koller made some changes to the team to put some fresh legs on the pitch. Mohamed Dhaoui Cristo, Mohamed Magdy ‘Afsha’ and Salah Mohsen joined the game.
The Ethiopian goalkeeper made some heroic saves and hitting the crossbar on a few occasions, Abdelkader provided the icing on the cake with a beautiful goal, securing a comfortable win for the Red Devils.