Ahli Tripoli stayed on course to consolidate their position as Ittihad’s main challengers for the title when the beat Ahli Benghazi 2-1 in a closely-fought 19th round match at the June 11 Stadium. As such they also managed to reduce the gap between them and the table-toppers to seven points.
Ahli Tripoli v Ahli Benghazi 2-1
The last five meetings between the two Ahli clubs had ended in draws, and it seemed likely that this match too would end in another stalemate.
The capital club had won their last five matches, and though Ahli Benghazi’s form was stuttering, they were still in with a chance, despite not having beaten their Tripoli rivals on this ground since February 1969.
Ahli Tripoli started brightly, and top scorer Mohammad al Maghrabi nearly gave the home side the lead on 11 minutes when his rasping drive forced Waleed al Dirsi into a fine save.
From the resulting corner, however, the home side took the lead, Ahmed Sa’ad’s corner finding Abubakr al Harak unmarked at the far post, and his header was deflected in off the Benghazi club’s Ali Salama the underside of the crossbar and in.
Ahli Benghazi nearly came straight back into it, Hashim Ben Dallah’s effort going just over Jum’aa Q’tait’s bar.
The hosts’ free-flowing, attacking football was delighting the crowd, and Nader Kara and Ahmed Sa’ad nearly combined for the second. Just seconds later, Jaouad Akaddar should have scored, but he blazed over with just Al Dirsi to beat.
And they were made to pay, as Ahli Benghazi equalised just a minute later, on 24 minutes. Ifenayi Onuigbo and Idrees al Qat’aani linked up well on the left, and the latter placed his shot beyond the reach of Q’tait to the joy of the 3,000-strong travelling support.
Ahli Tripoli could have regained the lead on the half hour; Al Maghrabi’s cross was punched clear by Al Dirsi, but only as far as Salim Aballu, whose chipped effort hit the side netting.
After such a hectic start, the game calmed down after half time, but Ahmed Sa’ad could have had a penalty five minutes into the second period, but the ref waved play on.
With chances few and far between in the second half, it was again the home side who took the lead on 67 minutes. Ahmed Sa’ad weaved brilliantly between two players, and his drilled cross found substitute Osama al Fazzani, who used the pace of the ball to divert it into the net with his first touch.
Ahli Benghazi had several chances to equalise, Onuigbo’s weak shot hitting the side netting, and Mustafa Ibrahim unable to get the ball out of his feet when he was clean through. With time running out, Akram Ayaad had a brilliant chance to level, but his header floated wayward of Q’tait’s goal.
It was a sixth straight win for Ahli Tripoli, and they head into the derby match with Ittihad with the chance to cut their lead to just four points.
Nasser v Madina 3-1
Nasser came out on top in an enthralling encounter at the Hugo Chavez Stadium, as they inflicted Madina only their third defeat of the season, beating them 3-1.
Madina had not been defeated on their four previous visits to this ground this season, and with just one defeat on the road all season, Farhaat Salem’s men fancied their chances in this match. But Nasser had suffered just one defeat at home and with four wins in their last five, they also headed into the game with confidence.
The game started excellently, with end-to-end play from the . Nasser took the lead inside seven minutes after a swift counter-attack when Ndubuisi Eze linked up well with Khaled Hussein, and the latter unleashed a ferocious right foot pile driver that surprised Osama al Snousi.
Nasser’s dominance continued and Ali al Haasy was unlucky not to double the lead, as he cut inside from the left but hit his shot straight at Al Snousi.
The away side began to assert their authority on the match, and nearly equalised when Abdulnaser Sa’ad’s corner missed everyone and flashed dangerously past the far post. Despite having the majority of possession, they could not force any openings, and Camara Sanosar’s effort was the closest that the away side came to levelling.
Nasser were showing confidence and Abdulhakeem al Mehdi nearly made it 2-0 when his deflected effort hit the post as the home side ended the half on top.
Madina improved after half time, but were still reluctant to pour numbers forward; a quick break out from Al Haasy’s corner led to a half chance as Stefan de Paul, substitute Mohammad Mqarej and Sanosar linked well together, but Mqarej’s effort was weak and Salah al Fitouri saved gratefully.
The hosts doubled their lead nine minutes into the second half; Al Mehdi’s throw found an unmarked Khaled Hussein, and his cross was guided in by Tunisian striker Mehdi ben Dhiffallah.
Just as it seemed Nasser were heading for a comfortable victory, Madina pulled a goal back just three minutes later with Stefan de Paul latching onto a through ball and smashing his shot past Al Fitouri for his 10th league goal of the season.
The match then became a little flat, but in a rare Nasser attack, Ndubuisi Eze was adjudged to have been fouled in the box, and the home side were awarded a penalty. The Madina players were infuriated with Aymen Khalifi picking up a booking for his protests.
The Nigerian dusted himself down and sent Al Snousi the wrong way to decide the game for Nasser with eight minutes remaining. With the result already decided, the Nasser players began to showboat, and Ihaab al Boussefi nearly made it four, but he could not find the finish to go with his excellent solo run.
Najma v Olomby 4-3
Struggling Najma came out on top in a thrilling match up with bottom side Olomby at the Hugo Chavez Stadium.
Najma had only managed to score more than one goal on one occasion this season, and with Olomby not prolific scorers either, the scoreline was certainly a surprise for the neutral.
Ahmed Khenchil put the Zaawia side in front in the fifth minute from the spot, but they were blown away by the Benghazi outfit, as they raced into a 3-1 lead by half time.
With both sides needing a result to keep their slim chances of survival alive, it was Najma who grabbed the next goal, making it 4-1 on the hour.
Olomby have been showing resilience in recent weeks, and they scored two quickfire goals to keep Najma on their toes.
However, they could not find the equaliser and Najma held on for an important victory.