Ahly stun Saudi Ittihad 3-1 to reach Club World Cup semis

Cairo giants Ahly pulled off a statement victory by dismantling Saudi Ittihad 3-1 on Friday to advance to the 2023 FIFA Club World Cup semi-finals.

The African champions produced a composed performance to overwhelm the Saudi hosts, who boasted an array of global superstars including Karim Benzema and Fabinho, and set up a mouthwatering clash with South American champions Fluminense on Monday.

After Ali Maaloul’s penalty put Ahly ahead, goalkeeper Mohamed Elshenawy emerged as the early hero by saving a Benzema spot-kick on the stroke of half-time.

Hussein Elshahat then curled home a delightful second goal, before Emam Ashour capped a slick counter to put the tie beyond doubt.

The Egyptian side controlled the match from the start and it came as no surprise when they took the lead midway through the first half when striker Ali Maaloul converted a penalty after Hassan Kadesh was adjudged to have handled the ball.

Maaloul sent goalkeeper Abdullah Almayouf the wrong way, striking the ball straight down the middle.

Al Ittihad had the chance to equalize before half-time when they were awarded a penalty of their own after Mohamed Abdelmoneim was penalized for handball.

But legendary Al Ahly keeper Elshenawy flung himself to his right to deny Benzema from the spot.

Elshenawy was called into action again early in the second period, tipping Faisal Alghamdi’s shot onto the post.

Al Ahly then doubled their lead on 59 minutes courtesy of a delightful curling effort from Hussein Elshahat.

Just three minutes later it was 3-0. Ashour capped a slick counter-attacking move to put the result beyond doubt.

Ittihad star Benzema grabbed a last-minute consolation from close range for his sixth Club World Cup goal.

But it mattered little as Al Ahly comfortably held on to seal their place in the last four.

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