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El-Karti strike seals African Champions League for Wydad Casablanca

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El-Karti strike seals African Champions League for Wydad Casablanca

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CASABLANCA (Reuters) – Moroccan club Wydad Casablanca secured a first African Champions League title in 25 years as Walid El-Karti’s second-half goal secured a 1-0 win over record eight-time winners Al Ahly at the Stade Mohammed V on Saturday. Wydad won the tie 2-1 on aggregate to end their long wait for a second win in Africa’s elite club competition, with victory coming in front of their raucous home supporters, who booed every touch of the ball from Ahly players. The win ends a stellar campaign for Wydad, who have been particularly strong at home with all seven games won and just a single goal conceded underlining their dominance. Ahly’s Moroccan striker Walid Azaro had the first opening when he looked to turn the ball home from close-range, but was denied by Wydad goalkeeper Zouheir Laaroubi. Abdeladim Khadrouf was a whisker away from giving Wydad the lead when his shot from the just inside the penalty area deflected off Ahly’s Hussein El-Sayed and smashed into the post. Ahly had another chance to claim a precious away goal when Moemen Zakareya found himself one-on-one with Laaroubi just past the half-hour mark, but could not beat the Wydad keeper. The home side began to exert greater control in the second half and grabbed the lead thanks to the strength of El-Karti as he outmuscled two Ahly defenders to head home Achraf Bencharki’s cross from the right on 69 minutes. Ismail Haddad might have added a second when he was teed-up from close-range, but this time Ahly keeper Sherif Ekramy made a fine stop. The visitors pushed forward for the equaliser they needed to level the tie, but were unable to break down the resolute home defence. Wydad have now qualified for the Club World Cup that will be played in the United Arab Emirates from Dec. 6-16.

(Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Toby Davis)
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