JOHANNESBURG: Al Ahly of Egypt crushed CAF Champions League upstarts Berekum Chelsea of Ghana 4-1 in Cairo this weekend to take control of Group B with a five-point cushion.
A five-minute second-half brace from Walid Soliman behind closed doors completed a surprisingly comfortable victory over opponents who have upset several big clubs during their debut season.
Success was all the sweeter for record six-time African champions Ahly as they lacked three key players with defender Ahmed Fathy, midfielder Mohamed Aboutrika and striker Emad Moteab on Olympic Games duty.
They also lacked support with domestic football barred and no spectators allowed at international fixtures since 74 people died on February 1 in post-match Port Said rioting.
Each club finished with 10 men at the Military Academy Stadium. Richard Boateng of Chelsea was sent off just before half-time and Ahly veteran Wael Gomaa followed suit midway through the second half.
Ahly have nine points after earlier victories over TP Mazembe from Democratic Republic of Congo and Cairo neighbours Zamalek while Chelsea exceeded expectations by defeating Zamalek and holding Mazembe.
The Cairo Red Devils, who last won the title four years ago, were quick out of the blocks and led within 17 minutes as Abdullah Al Saied connected with a clever back pass to rifle the ball past goalkeeper Ernest Sowah.
A glancing Mohamed Naguib header off a corner doubled the Egyptian advantage before leading Champions League scorer Emmanuel Clottey raised his season haul to 12 by winning and converting a late first-half penalty.
But Soliman put the new kids on the block firmly in their place with a couple of superb left-foot goals approaching the closing stages to leave Chelsea needing urgent defensive repairs before they sides' August 19 Accra clash.
He controlled the ball with his chest on the edge of the box, turned and flicked it over an opponent before giving Sowah no chance, and soon after volleyed an awkward-height cross into the roof of the net.
The brilliance of Zamalek goalkeeper Abdel Wahed Al Sayed kept Mazembe at bay for 70 minutes in Congolese mining hub Lubumbashi before Ngandu Kasongo and Mbwana Samata scored the goals that brought a much-needed 2-0 victory.
Mazembe and Chelsea have four points each and five-time Champions League winners Zamalek have yet to get off the mark at the halfway stage of the group with the top-two finishers advancing to the semi-finals.