Ahly win their fourth Champions league title
Egyptian giants Ahly lifted their fourth African Champions League trophy on Saturday after a comprehensive 3-0 drubbing of Tunisia's Etoile du Sahel in front of a jubilant home crowd.
The win came as a boost for the whole nation ahead of the African Nations Cup due to kick off in Egypt in January and after the Pharaohs failed to secure a berth in the 2006 World Cup.
Etoile kicked off with a decidedly more aggressive style than the cautious defensive play that saw them walk away from the first leg in Sousse with a goalless draw.
But the 51-match, all-competition unbeaten run Ahly took into the second leg never looked like coming to an end as the "Red Devils" soon imposed their will on the game, backed by a capacity crowd of 35,000 in Cairo.
Teenage Cape Verdian striker Gilson often looked isolated in his attempts to inject pace in the Tunisian club's play, while Ahly defender Wael Gomaa reigned supreme on his half of the pitch.
After 20 minutes of lively play, Mohammed Aboutrika drove the ball from the right side and fired a powerful 25-yard shot past Etoile keeper Austin Ejide, who had no time to even make a dive for it.
Five minutes into the second half, Osama Hosni headed home a ball nicely curled in from the left, all but booking Ahly's ticket to December's FIFA Club World Championship in Japan.
After several missed opportunities, Ahly completed the scoreline two minutes into stoppage time when home hero Mohammed Barakat swerved through the defence to unleash a superb strike that found the top right corner of Ejide's net.
The 29-year-old playmaker scored three goals against Zamalek in the semi-finals and his last-minute wonder took his Champions League tally to four goals, sharing the title of top scorer with team-mate Imad Motaeb.
The trophy earned Ahly a million dollars in prize money, but more importantly to the fans, the win also allowed Egypt's largest club to equal bitter city rivals Zamalek's unbeaten run of 52 matches.
It was Ahly's fourth Champions League triumph after lifting the trophy in 1982, 1987 and 2001.
Players from Egypt's top team will likely feature prominently in the line-up that will battle it out with Morocco, Libya and Ivory Coast in Group A of the African Cup of Nations starting in two months.