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Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Egypt's Ahly through to Champions League final with emphatic win over Wydad

Ahly down Morocco's Wydad again to reach the African Champions League final and edge closer to their first triumph in seven years

Hatem Maher , Friday 23 Oct 2020
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Egypt's Ahly qualified for their third African Champions League final in four years in emphatic fashion, outclassing Morocco's Wydad 3-1 in Cairo for a comprehensive 5-1 aggregate victory on Friday.

Striker Marwan Mohsen killed off Wydad's hopes as early as the seventh minute, with his neat goal, which was awarded after a VAR review, leaving the visitors needing to score three goals to advance.

Winger Hussein El-Shahat added a second on 26 minutes after embarrassing his challenger with a superb piece of individual skill before defender Yasser Ibrahim rubbed salt into the wounds of a below-par Wydad side with a second-half header.

Substitute Zouhair El Moutaraji netted a consolation but it was too little, too late as Ahly exacted revenge on Wydad, who beat the Red Devils 2-1 on aggregate in the 2017 final.

The Cairo giants moved a step closer to ending a seven-year wait for a Champions League triumph, having won the last of their record eight titles in 2013.

They set some records in the process, including the longest winning streak at home (17 games), biggest number of goals in a single competition (34) and a record-extending 13th appearance in the final. 

Zamalek defeated Morocco's Raja 1-0 away in the first leg of the other semi-final, setting the stage for a mouthwatering final against perennial Cairo rivals Ahly on 6 November.

The second leg was due to take place on Saturday but was pushed back to 1 November after Raja were hit with more than a dozen coronavirus infections.

Dominant Ahly

Although Wydad created the game's first chance when lone striker Kazadi Kasengu sent a low shot that went just wide from the edge of the area, Ahly dominated proceedings and overwhelmed their feeble opponents with a series of devastating fast-paced attacks.

They went ahead from one such move, Amr El-Sulaya's lofting ball releasing Mohsen, who neatly controlled it and fired into the bottom of the corner.

Before he scored, the linesman had raised his flag but referee Victor Gomes only blew his whistle for offside after the ball had gone in.

After consulting the VAR, the South African official allowed the goal to stand, sparking furious protests from Wydad players. Television replays showed that Mohsen was onside when El-Sulaya sent his chipped pass.

It was then a one-way traffic, with Ahly ending the match as a contest on 26 minutes when burly Malian midfielder Aliou Dieng, an imposing presence throughout, outmuscled his challenger on the left near the halfway line before sending a diagonal pass to El-Shahat.

El-Shahat, who sprang a poor offside trap, bamboozled Yahia Attiyat Allah twice, leaving him on the ground and beating keeper Reda Tagnaouti at his near post with a snap shot.

Although Ahly took their foot off the gas pedal in the second half, Wydad remained toothless.

Ibrahim added a third on 59 minutes when he rose unmarked to head home a corner after keeper Reda Tagnaouti, who should have done better, got a hand to it.

Ahly wasted further clear-cut chances in the latter stages before El Moutaraji denied them another clean sheet with a 81st-minute goal, planting a powerful shot into the bottom corner after cutting inside from the left.

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

 
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