Sunday Jun 04, 2023. 22:42
Al Ahly ensured their unbeaten home record against Wydad Casablanca in the CAF Champions League remained intact after securing a 2-1 win in the first leg of the final at the Cairo International Stadium on Sunday night.
Marcel Koller’s side capitalised on poor marking to take the lead through Percy Tau at the end of the first half and Kahraba doubled their advantage just before the hour mark.
The Red Castle had earlier been denied by the frame of the goal but they were given a lifeline when Saifeddine Bouhra stepped off the bench to halve the deficit for minutes from time with a precious away goal.
Al Ahly had never lost to Wydad at home in the competition, although their head-to-head record in the final made for less stellar reading after being beaten on both occasions in 2017 and 2022.
The hosts had the lion’s share of possession but they struggled to create many chances in the first half as Sven Vandenbroeck’s team made better use of the ball and threatened numerous times.
Kahraba had the first real sniff at goal on 18 minutes, although his shot from inside the area was comfortably saved by Youssef El Motie.
The battle for midfield supremacy was fierce as the two African giants cancelled each other out for much of the opening half, with the game eventually coming to life in the final five minutes.
The visitors carved out three chances in the space of a minute – Reda Jaadi tested Mostafa Shobeir with a strike from inside the box in the 40th minute before Ayoub El Amloud dragged a shot wide of the left post from range moments later and Junior Sambou steered a header wide of the right post from a 41st-minute corner.
However, the Red Castle were caught napping in added time when Tau ghosted into the area and beat El Motie with a header after getting on the end of Hussein El Shahat’s cross.
They almost hit back immediately as Yahia Attiyat Allah forced Shobeir into a superb save with a strike from distance in the seventh minute of additional time.
Wydad came out of the blocks flying in the second half as they pushed for an equaliser, with El Amloud failing to keep his header down in the 47th minute before Zouhair El Moutaraji fired just wide of the near post from an angle on the left moments later after being played in by Yahya Jabrane.
Kahraba gave El Motie some more work to do in the 52nd minute after lining up a shot from range that produced a fine save from the goalkeeper but the striker was not to be denied as he slotted the ball into the roof of the net from inside the area on 59 minutes after being picked out by El Shahat.
El Motie was called into action again on 67 minute to keep out El Shahat’s strike from distance and the woodwork then came to the Red Eagles’ rescue moments later when Attiyat Allah saw his long-range effort hit the right post.
Kahraba drew another smart save out of El Motie with a shot from inside the area on 72 minutes, while back up the other end Shobeir was required to keep out El Amloud’s strike from the right side of the box in the 79th minute.
The goal was Wydad were threatening finally arrived four minutes from time as substitute Bouhra latched onto a pass from Sambou inside the area and lashed his shot into the top left corner of the net.
Al Ahly saw out the final few minutes to take a slender advantage into the second leg at the Mohammed V Stadium on June 11.
Al Ahly (1) 2 (Tau 45+4′, Kahraba 59′)
Wydad (0) 1 (Bouhra 86′)
Al Ahly: M. Shobeir, M. Hany, Y. Ibrahim, M. Abdelmonem, A. Maaloul, M. Attia, P. Tau, A. Dieng, H. Fathy, H. El Shahat (A. Abdel Kader 87′), Kahraba (M. Sherif 87′).
Wydad Casablanca: Y. El Motie, A. El Amloud, A. Farhane, A. Zola, Y. Attiyat Allah, R. Jaadi, Y. Jabrane, J. Daoudi, A. El Hassouni (M. Ounajem 73′), J. Sambou, Z. El Moutaraji (S. Bouhra 82′).