Debutants Pyramids continued with their fairy tale run in the Total CAF Confederations Cup, hitting fellow Egyptian side Al Masry 2-0 at the June 30 Stadium in Cairo on Sunday to become the first team to progress to the quarter finals.
Their fourth straight group stage victory saw them move to 12 points with two rounds of matches left in Group A while Masry who are on six points will need a win from one of their last two matches to confirm their place in the last eight.
The other two teams in the group, Mauritania’s FC Nouadhibou and Nigeria’s Rangers International played to a 1-1 draw in Enugu with both sides having slim chances of progressing with two points each.
Goals in either half from Eric Traore and Nabil Aly gave Pyramids the victory and not even skipper Abdalla Said's penalty miss in between could curtail their winning feeling.
Pyramids should have ended the opening half with a comfortable two goal cushion, but Said fluffed a 44th minute penalty with his side leading 1-0. Islam Attia was appended inside the box by keeper Ahmed Abdelwahab, but Said fired a poor kick which was comfortably saved by the shot stopper.
Pyramids who have won all their three group matches got into the lead in the 20th minute when Traore fired his sixth goal of the campaign with an emphatic finish from inside the box after keeper Abdelwahab had spilled a header from Serge Kanon off a Mohamed corner.
In between the goal, Masry had chances both from set pieces, Younes Bahaa sending both efforts curling wide.
Pyramids was forced into a change after 39 minutes, goal scorer Traore coming off clutching his hamstring and was replaced by Ahmed Tawfik.
Masry started the second half on the front foot, and in the 57th minute, off a counter attack had a chance to draw back level. Amir Ramadan sent Muftah Hamad through with a peach of a through ball, but the winger’s effort at goal was saved.
Four minutes later, Ramadan was provider once again, this time sending Islam Ahmed through, but his shot was deflected for a corner.
For those two missed chances, Masry paid the ultimate price when Aly scored the second with a rifled shot from the edge of the box after Younes’s defensive header fell kindly on his path.
The two-goal cushion offered Pyramids some comfort and they defended well to guard the lead and the three points, completing a double over their Egyptian rivals.