CAF Champions League Matchday 3 Wrap: Sundowns stun Al Ahly at home; Raja, Petro Atletico remain unbeaten
Thapelo Morena scored just four minutes after coming on as Mamelodi Sundowns stunned holders Al Ahly with a 1-0 defeat at the Cairo International Stadium in their TotalEnergies CAF Champions League Group A match on Saturday.
Morena had just come on for Themba Zwane in the 81st minute and just four minutes into the pitch, he struck an unstoppable shot that handed Sundowns victory over their former coach Pitso Mosimane.
It was the first time in six attempts that the South African side were not just winning, but scoring a goal against the Egyptian giants and the victory was vital as it took Masandawana top of group A with seven points.
Morena scored with five minutes left on the clock with a thumping shot that left Mohamed Elshenawy rooted to his spot after Shalulile had picked up a poorly cleared ball and put it on a silver platter for the substitute.
While Morena scored the winner, veteran goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene who was standing in for the injured Dennis Onyango pulled off a brilliant save in the fourth minute of added time to pluck off a header from Yasser Ibrahim off a corner.
And just before they conceded, Ahly lost a glorious opportunity when Rushine De Reuck blocked a shot from Amr El Solia off the line after keeper Mweene spilled a cross at the Egyptian attacker’s feet.
It had been an end to end tie and duly ended with as much drama. Each side had chances to score. The Red Devils had a chance after 18 minutes but Hamdi Fathi’s header off an Ali Maaloul cross was blocked by Brian Mandela.
Aliou Dieng had two chances with long range shots, but both went over. Maaloul also had a well struck freekick saved by Mweene.
In the second half, the same tempo was maintained and Sundowns came very close in the 52nd minute but Lyle Lakay’s curling effort came off the crossbar.
Lakay had another chance five minutes later with a venomous drive from the left, but the effort was pushed away at full flight by Elshenawy.
Ahly had been piling the pressure in the final quarter of the match to try get a goal, but their efforts were needled off by Morena’s late goal.
Al Merrikh clinched the bragging rights from the Sudanese derby as they downed rivals Al Hilal 2-1 at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo.
Al Merrikh started the game with a bang, opening the scoring in the third minute of play.
Saadeldin Elsamani opened the scoring with a neat finish, planting the ball into the net after Hilal goalkeeper Abou Eshrein came off his line.
Merrikh were dominant and the early goal gave them more courage and confidence to command the game.
However, against the run of play, their bitter rivals equalized through skipper Mohamed Abdel Raman at the half hour mark. The captain picked up a pass from Eid Mugadam before finishing off a counter attack.
But Merrikh could not let their slender lead slip off and just before the break, Saadeldin completed his brace scoring the second for Merrikh, finishing off a pass from Nigerian import Tony Edjomariegwe.
This was Merrikh’s second match of the group while Hilal have played three. They have only accumulated one point, from their drub draw in Omdurman against holders Ahly and sit bottom of the group.
South African debutants AmaZulu beat Algeria’s ES Setif by a solitary goal in Durban on Friday to cement their hold on second spot in Group B.
Amigo Memela’s goal in the 42nd minute was the difference as Usuthu picked up their second consecutive group stage win to move to six points.
It was a competitive tie between the two sides, but on the balance of chances, it was the hosts who commanded more of the action in the final third.
Siphelele Mthembu had a golden chance to hit the home side infront when he dribbled past the goalkeeper after a defensive blunder from Setif, but he could not hit the target from a tight angle.
Setif’s best chance of the opening half was on the half hour mark, but Ziti Khoutir forced a golden save off the AmaZulu keeper when he struck at goal with a well executed acrobatic attempt.
But it was the hosts who would break the deadlock, Mmela curling in a brilliant ball from outside the box, to give his side a 1-0 advantage three minutes to the break.
In the second half, the South Africans continued to press, but couldn’t add on to their tally.
Despite some late pressure from Setif, Benny McCarthy’s men secured the victory to boost their quarter final hopes.
Raja Club Athletic welcomed fans back to the stadium in Morocco with a third consecutive 1-0 result, as they sunk Guinean side Horoya AC to remain unbeaten and top of Group B.
Friday was the first time fans were allowed back to the stadium in Morocco since the COVID-19 pandemic started two years ago. Raja ensured they gave them something to smile about, with a slim, yet assured victory in Casablanca.
The victory took the Green Eagles to nine points, three ahead of second placed AmaZulu.
Having lost both their opening fixtures via the same margin, Horoya had come into the tie determined to pick a shock result in Casablanca, but they were not efficient in the final third, losing many scoring opportunities.
The second half was swung to the favour of the home side. They pressured Horoya seeking a goal, but the striking duo of Kadima Kabangu and Beni Badibanga saw their chances go begging.
They were however rewarded in the 67th minute when captain Mouhsine Moutaouali took advantage after Horoya keeper Moussa Camara strolled off his line to finish off and score the only goal of the match.
The home side managed to hold on to the slim victory to ensure their hopes of a quarter final berth remain alive.
The Guineans on the other end now see their hopes reduced, a third successive defeat leaving them wallowing at the bottom of the group.
The biggest derby in Tunisia was on as Etoile du Sahel welcomed Esperance du Tunis. Playing on their home turf, it was Etoile who started off brighter and they had their first chance through Ivorian forward Souleymane Coulibaly, but the latter’s shot was kept out by Moez Ben Cherifia.
Esperance were stunned by the strong early start and they too pushed up their attack. They came close few minutes later, but Mohamed Ben Romdhane saw his well struck freekick come off the woodwork.
Etoile keeper Ali Jemal had to be at his best to keep out more efforts from Ben Romdhane and Kingsley Eduwo, who were constantly threatening.
In the second half, both teams stepped up in attack, but none was fortunate enough to find the back of the net as Raja maintain top spot in Group C with 5 points.
Kheiredine Merzougui struck a second half brace, the second goal coming in the third minute of added time as Algerian side CR Belouizdad beat Jwaneng Galaxy 2-1 in Francistown.
Merzougui had broken the deadlock in the 77th minute before Galaxy equalized seven minutes later, but a mistake from the keeper saw CRB cruise away with maximum points away from home.
Having played to morale boosting 1-1 draw against Etoile du Sahel last weekend, Galaxy were pumped up to go for a win and they ensured they played with caution and a strategy in the opening half. However, they couldn’t do much upfront and the first half ended barren.
The second half started in similar fashion, but the tempo picked up towards the final quarter.
In the 72nd minute, Mokhtar Belkhiter weighted a beautiful pass to substitute Hichem Khalfallah, but the forward’s control let him down as he was at the edge of the six yard box with only the keeper to beat.
They however broke the deadlock five minutes later when Merzougui controlled the ball beautifully inside the box off a Khalfalah pass and lifted it beautifully over the keeper.
But the home side were not about to go down without a fight and in the 84th minute they drew one back through Gilbert Baruti who controlled the ball on the right before shooting low beyond the keeper.
While they were pushing to try and get a possible winner, Jwaneng were undone by a howler from keeper Anthony Gouws who spilled a shot from Belkhiter with Merzougui reacting fastest to thump the ball home in the third minute of added time.
The win takes the Algerians to five points and second place in group C while Jwaneng remain rooted at the bottom with just a single point.
In what was a week full of derbies, Petro Atletico also gunned down 10-man Esperanca de Sagrada to earn the bragging rights in the Angolan derby.
Tiago Azulao’s first half penalty was all Petro de Luanda needed to down G.D. Sagrada Esperança and earn bragging rights from their clash on Saturday evening.
Esperança had to finish the match with 10 men on the pitch after Karanga was sent off for a second bookable offense after 66 minutes.
Azulao struck home from the penalty spot in the 33rd minute after Brazilian midfielder Gleison had been hacked down inside the box by Esperança keeper Leonardo Mutunda.
Petro had managed to sustain some waves of attack from their opponents and they went to the break tails up by a goal.
In the second half, they were handed a numerical advantage when Karanga was sent off. But Esperanca kept their hunt despite being handicapped with numbers.
They almost drew level in the 72nd minute when Lepua weaved his way into the box from the left, but his final shot skied over the bar. They kept the push, but were not lucky to force at least a draw.
The victory was vital for Petro who remain unbeaten in the group and are now top with seven points after three matches with their rivals Esperança perched bottom with just a point off their home draw with Zamalek.
Two-time champions Wydad Club Athletic came from a goal down to beat Zamalek 3-1 at the Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca and cement their hold on second spot in Group D.
Ahmed Sayed ‘Zizo’ had given Zamalek a third minute lead, but Wydad, pushed on by the brilliant home crowd, came from down to lead 2-1 at the break and adding a third late on.
The victory takes them to six points after three matches, while pressure is on Zamalek who are winless in three matches.
Wydad went to the break with a 2-1 lead and a brilliant performance to cap it off, pushed on by the passionate home fans who have for the first time in two years been allowed back to the stadium.
They however had to come from a goal down. Zizo gave the White Knights a third minute lead with a thunderous shot from distance after being accorded time and space off an Achraf Bencharki pass.
But, the home side were not cowed despite going down early and they pinned Zamalek into their own half. They were ultimately rewarded with the equalizer in the 27th minute when Zouheir El Moutaraji volleyed the ball into the net after Reda Jaadi’s initial shot inside the box was blocked.
Guy Mbenza had a chance to score in the 36th minute when his snap shot inside the box was turned behind for a corner by Mohamed Abou Gabal. On the second successive corner, Wydad scored through Amine Farhane.
The defender scored with an overhead kick after Abou Gabal’s punch from a corner fell kindly on his path and he simply volleyed the ball into an empty net.
Jaadi almost scored a third at the stroke of halftime, but his shot was saved by the Zamalek goalie.
In the second half, Zamalek pushed Wydad into their own half as they sought to level matters, but their decision in the final third let them down.
They were punished in the 88th minute when Wydad scored the third goal, skipper Yahya Jebrane scoring with a low finish in the box off a Muaid Ellafi cutback from the right.