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2021/22 Caf CL: Al Ahly succumb to Wydad in final

Al Ahly succumbed to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Wydad Athletic Club in the 2021/22 Caf Champions League final played at Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca Monday night.

A brace of goals from Zouheir El Moutaraji secured a third Champions League crown for the Red Castle, adding to titles in 1992 and 2017.

The Egyptian giants, meanwhile, missed out on making history: Ahly, who already have a record 10 Champions League titles to their name, were hoping to become the first club to win the competition three times in succession.

The Portuguese won the continental tournament in 2001, 2005, 2006 and 2008 with Ahly, while Mosimane’s three triumphs have come with Mamelodi Sundowns in 2016 and Ahly in 2020 and 2021.

Wydad started the stronger of the two teams but had to wait until the 11th minute for a first shot in anger, with Guy Mbenza letting fly from just outside the penalty area and rattling the crossbar – with Ahly goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy beaten all ends up.

Yet the Red Castle had to wait only a few more minutes to claim the lead in spectacular style, as Zouheir El Moutaraji fired home a brilliant strike from long range on the quarter-hour mark to put the Moroccan side in charge.

Al Ahly were initially stunned by the early goal, but they soon found a rhythm and nearly equalized on 25 minutes when defender Yasser Ibrahim got on the end of a corner kick and sent a headed effort just off target.

Ten minutes later the Red Devils threatened through another corner kick – this time Taher Mohamed got on the end of Ali Maaloul’s delivery and glanced an effort wide of the far post.

Ahly continued to dominate possession and build attacking pressure through the remainder of the first half, but the interval arrived with the Moroccan side still one goal to the good.

And Wydad needed less than three minutes of the second half to double their lead: El Moutaraji caught Mohamed Hany napping and beat the defender to a cross from the right flank, directing an effort on goal which was only parried by El Shenawy, and the Wydad No 7 swept home the rebound from close range for 2-0.

Ahly responded with a double substitution, sending on Mohamed Afsha and Mohamed Sherif a few minutes after Wydad’s second goal.

The Egyptian side continued to enjoy a greater share of possession, but finding a way through their opponent’s deep-lying and well-organised defence proved a near-impossible task.

One of their best efforts arrived on 74 minutes when Afsha drove forward to the edge of the penalty area and sent a shot arrowing toward the bottom corner of the net, but Wydad goalkeeper Ahmed Tagnaouti made a fine save diving to his right.

The shot-stopper made more crucial saves on 82 and 83 minutes, bravely denying Sherif at close range and preventing Percy Tau from running onto a long ball through the heart of the defence respectively, as Ahly began to throw more players forward in attacking desperation.

However, Wydad were able to withstand the pressure and hold out for a victory which was greeted by deafening celebrations in Casablanca.



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