Title-holders Al-Ahly of Egypt secured a 2-1 over AC Leopards of Congo Brazzaville this weekend in the CAF Champions League.
Abdullah Al-Saied and Walid Soliman scored for the Cairo side while Sidoine Beaullia hit a late consolation goal for Leopards, who failed to convert a first-half penalty.
Ahly took control of the must-win game, held in El-Gouna's 12,000-capacity stadium, early on. The record seven-time Champions League winners were rewarded on 37 minutes when Al-Saied cut inside and his shot took a wicked bounce to deceive goalkeeper Lawrence Ngome.
Leopards, competing in the group stage for the first time after defying the odds to lift the second-tier CAF Confederation Cup last season, wasted a chance to level before the break. Hossam Ashour fouled fellow midfielder Ntela Kalema in the box, but Leopards defender Ulrich Nzamba had his penalty brilliantly saved by goalkeeper Sherif Ekrami.
A curling far-post shot from Soliman midway through the second half doubled the lead only for Beaullia to halve the deficit six minutes from time and set up a tense finish. Ahly also won narrowly away to Leopards and have seven points from four games, level with Orlando Pirates of South Africa but behind on goal difference. Leopards have four points and five-time champions Zamalek of Egypt, who host Pirates in El-Gouna later Sunday, just one. The top two finishers progress to the semi-finals.
Esperance of Tunisia, beaten by Ahly in the 2012 final, stayed on course to top Group B with a 1-0 home victory over Sewe San Pedro of Côte d'Ivoire. Algerian defender Antar Yahia was the match-winner in Tunis, nodding in at the far post from a corner by midfielder Oussama Darragi.
Sewe, who also lost by a solitary goal at home to Esperance two weeks ago, had a rare scoring chance ten minutes from time but Kevin Zougoula headed over. Esperance, who have won the Champions League twice, have nine points, Coton Sport of Cameroon six and Sewe and Recreativo Libolo of Angola three each.