Al Ahly down Wydad in Cairo to earn CAF Champions League advantage

Al Ahly drew first blood against Wydad Athletic Club, edging them out 2-1 at the Cairo International Stadium in the first leg of the TotalEnergies CAF Champions League on Sunday night.

Percy Tau and Mahmoud Kahraba scored a goal in either half from a pair of Hussein Elshahat assists as the Red Devils edged closer to a record-extending 11th Champions League title.

But, Wydad gave themselves a good chance with an away goal, substitute Said Eddine Bouhra scoring with four minutes left to keep the tie within reach for the return fixture.

In an entertaining duel, Ahly went to the break a goal up courtesy of Tau’s bullet header at the stroke of 45 minutes. Elshahat showed determination to fight and get to a Hamdy Fathy overhit pass on the byline, curling in a cross that landed on the South African international unmarked at the far post.

Before that, Ahly who had 75pc of possession in the opening half had some chances to score. In the 18th minute, the ball landed kindly into Kahraba’s path, but the latter’s low shot was saved by the keeper.

Ahly had a penalty decision overruled by VAR on the half-hour mark. The referee had initially pointed to the spot after Ali Maaloul’s freekick seemingly bounced off a hand inside the box but after visiting the pitchside monitor, the ref changed his initial decision.

Wydad came close to breaking the deadlock in the 39th minute but were denied by a brilliant Mostafa Shoubir save. The custodian sprinted off his line to narrow the gap and save Reda Jaadi’s volley after Bouly Sambou had nodded down a freekick for him.

In the second half, the game was off to a fast-paced start and Kahraba had two shots saved by the keeper back-to-back seven minutes after the restart.

On the other end, Aymane El Hassouni had a sniff at goal with a good curling effort but it flew inches wide off target.

Ahly’s persistence however bore them the second goal. Kahraba smashed home on the hour mark after Elshahat picked a long ball from Mohamed Hany on the left before cutting it back into the area.

Despite going down 2-0, Wydad kept fighting and they were denied by the base of the upright in the 68th minute when left back Yahya Attiat Allah swung a volley from the edge of the area.

In the 79th minute, they had another effort at goal but were denied once again by a brilliant Shoubir save, the Ahly keeper palming away Ayoub El Amloud’s shot from the right.

Their hunger was finally rewarded with four minutes to play when Bouhra, barely two minutes on the pitch rifled into the back of the net after Sambou touched an Amloud cut back into his direction.

Ahly put in some effort to restore their two-goal cushion and came close with Tau’s shot from distance, but it came to nothing.

The home side saw off the result, and will now head to Casablanca next weekend looking to avoid defeat to clinch their 11th title. Wydad will only need in the least a 1-0 victory to retain their crown and if Ahly score, they will have to put three more in the back of the net to earn victory.

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