Hussein el Shahat scored twice as Al Ahly of Egypt began their CAF Champions League title defense with a predictable 3-0 qualifying win over Saint George of Ethiopia on Sunday.
El Shahat, popularly known as the Ninja, struck in each half in Cairo before being substituted in the last-32 first-leg clash.
Ahmed Abdelkader, one of many substitutes introduced in the second half by Swiss coach Marcel Koller, completed the scoring in added time.
Saint George, regular but largely unsuccessful African campaigners, were forced to cede home advantage because they do not have an international-standard stadium, AFP reported.
The return match will be played on Friday at the same venue with record 11-time African champions Ahly virtually assured of a ninth straight appearance in the group stage.
From 2016, the Cairo Red Devils have won the competition three times, been runners-up three times, quarter-finalists once and failed to get beyond the group phase once.
Victory over Saint George came one week after a shock 1-0 loss to USM Alger of Algeria in Saudi Arabia in the CAF Super Cup.
Ahly coasted to victory despite lacking new signing Anthony Modeste, who is ineligible for the last-32 round, and suspended Moroccan Reda Slim.
The winners of 24 African titles across four competitions also missed defender Mahmoud Metwally and midfielder Amr el Sulaya due to injuries.
Koller chose three non-Egyptian starters -- Tunisian defender Ali Maaloul, Malian midfielder Aliou Dieng and South African forward Percy Tau.