(Reuters) – Holders Al Ahli needed a second-half penalty to draw 1-1 with arch-rivals Zamalek in the African Champions League on Wednesday when supporters defied a stadium ban to watch the game in the Red Sea resort of El Gouna.
Egyptian media reported that an agreement was reached before kick-off with fan groups from the two Cairo-based clubs to allow in spectators despite a ban imposed by security officials who feared the game could spark violence.
There was persistent firing of fire crackers and smoke bombs but the match, the first in the group phase for both clubs, passed off in a carnival atmosphere.
Mohamed Aboutrika equalised in the 54th minute from the spot after Zamalek had taken a surprise early lead.
In a goalmouth scramble after Ahli goalkeeper Sherif El Akrami spilled a free-kick, Zamalek had three goal attempts before Ahmed Gaafar blasted the ball home from close range in the eighth minute.
The game had originally been scheduled for Alexandria on Sunday but was then moved to El Gouna, 436km from the capital, where the stadium can hold only 5,000 spectators.
The move meant a late afternoon kick-off because of a lack of floodlights, drawing criticism because the players are fasting in the Moslem holy month of Ramadan.
Egyptian authorities cancelled all domestic football after the army’s ousting of president Mohamed Morsi this month but allowed the two clubs, who have a passionate following in the Arab world, to continue playing in the Champions League.
It was the second year in succession that the domestic league had been prematurely ended. A stadium riot in Port Said that led to 74 deaths in early 2012 brought football in Egypt to a near-standstill for almost 12 months.