Ismailia took a three-point lead over Al Ahly on Tuesday in a thrilling Egyptian Premiership title chase by winning 3-1 at home to Zamalek.
Mohamed Abougreisha gave the host club a fourth-minute lead which Iraqi Mostafa Karim extended before veteran Abdulhalim Ali reduced arrears in a showdown of former African champions. Karim completed the scoring in first-half injury time with his 11th goal of the season, one less than leading league scorer Papa Arko, a Ghanaian who plays for mid-table police club Al-Gaish.
Ismailia have 57 points with two fixtures to fulfil and Al Ahly 54 with three games to play as they seek a record fifth consecutive title in one of the most competitive African national football championships. Al Ahly were held goalless by fierce rivals Zamalek last week and dropped a further two points on Monday when coming from behind twice to draw 2-2 with ENPPI.
Mostafa Gaafar and Ahmed al-Mohammadi were on target for the petroleum company outfit and an own goal by Abdullah Ragab and penalty for star midfielder Mohamed Aboutrika rescued six-time African champions Al Ahly.