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Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Morocco's Wydad win Champions League to deny Ahly record-extending title

Hatem Maher , Saturday 4 Nov 2017
Wydad Casablanca's players celebrate with their trophy after winning the CAF Champions League final football match between Egypt's Al-Ahly and Morocco's Wydad Casablanca on November 4, 2017 AFP
Views: 2877
Views: 2877

A second-half goal from Walid El Karti gave Morocco's Wydad Athletic a 1-0 home win over Ahly and the African Champions League title on Saturday, denying the Egyptian giants a record-extending ninth triumph.

El Karti made the most of a recurring defensive lapse to power home a header nine minutes past the hour mark in a goal that bore a striking resemblance to Wydad's first-leg equaliser which saw them hold Ahly to a 1-1 draw in Alexandria.

The solitary goal sparked wild celebrations at the Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca, with Wydad holding on to their advantage to secure their second Champions League title, having won their maiden accolade in 1992.

Ahly were denied what would have been their first title since they lifted the last of their record eight trophies in 2013, having struggled to trouble the assured hosts throughout apart from two clear-cut chances in the first half.

Wydad will now play at the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi next month.

Exciting affair

With in-form Tunisian left-back Ali Maaloul and defensive midfielder Hossam Ashour out through injury, Ahly coach Hossam El-Badry reshuffled his defensive lines, moving right-back Ahmed Fathi into the middle and fielding Mohamed Hani on the right. Hussein El-Sayed replaced Maaloul as a left-back.

The first half was an exciting, end-to-end affair as both sides signalled an attacking intent.

But Ahly pressed hard from the early stages, forcing Wydad to sit back and soak up pressure in the first quarter of an hour in the same way that they did in the first leg in Alexandria.

The visitors could have opened the scoring after 12 minutes when a low cross from lively winger Moemen Zakareya, who scored a brilliant goal on the half-volley in the first leg, eluded the defence and found Moroccan striker Walid Azaro, whose slight touch was palmed away by the keeper with the goal at his mercy.

Wydad then moved up a gear, gradually taking the game to their opponents, with winger Ismail Haddad dictating play and unsettling Ahly's right-back Mohamed Hani.

However, Wydad's only first-half chance was orchestrated down the right flank on 30 minutes when Haddad laid off the ball to the onrushing Abdeladim Khadrouf, whose shot deflected off the back of Hussein El-Sayed and rattled the bar.

Four minutes later, Ahly launched a fast breakaway as Zakareya broke clear, but he could only shoot straight at advancing keeper Zouheir Laaroubi when a chip would have been an easier option to score.

Ahly were pegged back in the early stages of the second half as Wydad were fast out of the blocks, squandering another chance to go ahead.

Just one minute into the second period, the impressive Achraf Bencharki fed the overlapping Haddad inside the area but his low shot hit the side netting from a tight angle.

Ahly struggled to string passes together, giving away possession too often and Wydad pounced on one of those mistakes to go ahead in the 69th minute.

Bencharki broke the offside trap on the right, skipped past midfielder Amr El-Sulaya and whipped in a cross for Walid El Karti, who rose between two markers to head home past motionless keeper Sherif Ekramy.

With Ahly pouring forward en masse to level the aggregate score, their porous line was further exposed and Ekramy was on alert to thwart Haddad in a one-on-one with 10 minutes remaining.

The introduction of veteran striker Emad Meteb and winger Walid Soliman in the dying stages did little to inject zeal and Wydad held on comfortably to claim the title.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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