Egyptians giants Al Ahly remain on course for yet another CAF African Champions League triumph after a 2-0 home win in the first leg of the final on Sunday but they will be kicking themselves for not amassing a bigger lead ahead of the return later this month.
Goals from Wael Gomaa and Angolan international Flavio inside the first 15 minutes handed the capital giants a 2-0 win over Cameroon's Coton Sport at the Cairo International stadium on Sunday, a boisterous crowd being treated to a tie of tempo and drama.
But Al Ahly are still far from assured of a record-breaking sixth continental title and a place in the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan at the end of the year. They now need to keep hold of their two-goal advantage in the second leg of the final, which will be hosted in Garoua on 16 November.
Had they taken all of their chances, the Cairo powerhouse would have killed off any hopes for the Cameroonian rookies, who have never before been this far in the competition. Instead, they left the door open for their West African opponents, who will feel they still have a chance to overturn the deficit.
For the first 30 minutes on Sunday, the Egyptians were rampant and again in the final ten.
The game was less than two minutes old when a defence splitting pass allowed an opportunity for both Mohamed Aboutrika and Flavio but Al Ahly missed out on the early breakthrough. However, disappointment for the partisan home fans lasted just a minute before Gomaa opened the score with a diving header, throwing himself at Aboutrika's sizzling free kick.
It looked as if the match would turn into a goal rout when Al Ahly doubled the score on the quarter-hour through Flavio. Again it was a free kick that unlocked the static Coton Sport defence, this time Ahmed Hassan hitting up the middle and the Angolan cleverly glancing the ball off the side of his head past the outstretched arm of Kassali Daouda.
The Cameroonians were caught time and again in the air but Al Ahly failed to add any more goals. To their credit, the visitors put the shock of conceding two early goals behind them to battle stoically in the midfield but rarely did they manage to get any efforts on Al Ahly's goal.
Indeed, they were limited to long range efforts and snap shots. Near the end of the game, Aboutrika came close to adding a third as his shot shaved the outside of the post but the miss of the match was executed by Flavio, who was set up by Aboutrika's mazy run before he hit a tired-looking shot over the top of the goal when it seemed easier to score.
Substitute Sayed Moawad also had a strong effort blocked in the closing stages, leaving Al Ahly with a handy but not too comfortable lead.
The Egyptians certainly looked a class above their opponents in style but commitment and tenacity have seen Coton Sport advance beyond all expectation to their first ever continental final this year. There might be some fight in them yet.