A precious brace from Zouheir El Moutaraji was enough to hand Wydad Athletic Club of Morocco a 2-0 win over defending champions, Al Ahly, and clinched the 2021/22 TotalEnergies CAF Champions League title at the Mohamed V Stadium in Casablanca on Monday night.
The forward, who missed the second leg of the semifinal against Petro de Luanda due to suspension, scored a goal in either half, handing Wydad its first title since 2017, when it coincidentally beat Ahly to lift the crown.
Ahly’s dream of becoming the first team to win three consecutive titles and clinch a record 11th was swept away, while coach Pitso Mosimane’s hope of a record-equaling fourth Champions League title also went the same way.
In front of a packed Mohamed V Stadium, with noise volumes cranking up to the maximum, Wydad couldn’t think of a loss. The Moroccans showed their intent from the blast of the whistle with the sound in the stadium injecting the hunger of a title into their veins.
The brilliant start created the first chance of the game after just 10 minutes when Yahya Jebrane won the ball in midfield before playing Guy Mbenza through. However, the Congo Brazzaville forward’s rasping shot from the edge of the area came off the crossbar, sending a warning to Ahly.
Five minutes later, the Moroccans got the opener, thanks to a blazing effort from El Moutaraji. Just after Ahly lost the ball cheaply on the right, Moutaraji picked on his wheels before unleashing an unstoppable belter from range.
After conceding, Ahly came alive and turned the game in its favor. In the 19th minute, Ali Maaloul curled in an inviting ball to Hussein El Shahaat but the latter’s effort at goal was brilliantly dealt with by the goalkeeper.
In the 22nd minute, Taher Mohamed sighted space from distance for a shot but it was deflected out for a corner. Ahly won two more in succession and with the second, Yasser Ibrahim flushed a header just wide after peeling off his marker to connect to Maaloul’s delivery.
Ahly was almost caught on the counter in the 31st minute when the influential Jebrane picked the ball and released it quickly to Reda Jaadi who slapped a low ball to Mbenza. However, the burly forward’s shot went wide, much to the relief of the Egyptian side.
Ahly’s huge possessions yields no results
After that, Ahly continued its dominance and overall, had 68% of possession in the opening half, but couldn’t show a goal for that effort.
In the second half, Wydad completed the job. The Moroccans broke loose on the counter and just two minutes into the half, it was 2-0 and the stadium’s roof was lifted with celebration.
A superb counter attack saw Jaadi go off on the right before slashing a cross. El Moutaraji sneaked behind Mohamed Hany to tap the ball but it was saved by Mohamed Elshenawy. Unfortunately, Elshenawy could not do much as El Moutaraji tapped home the spilled ball.
With a two goal burden to carry, Coach Mosimane threw caution out of the window, substituting Hussein El Shahaat for Magdy Afsha, Ahmed Abdelkader for Mohamed Sheriff while later, defender Hany came off for Salah Mohsen as Amr El Solia was brought in for Hamdi Fathi.
The offensive changes forced Wydad to sit deep and defend. Ahly had a couple of chances but Afsha’s shot from distance was saved by Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti while Maaloul had another smashed over the bar from inside the box.
Mohsen came close nine minutes to time when he ran on to a free kick inside the six-yard area, but Tagnaouti made a close range save for the Moroccans.
Ahly piled on more pressure but it was never to be as the team’s chase at history ended in a mirage in Casablanca, a huge disappointment for the visiting fans.
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