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Wydad overcome numerical disadvantage to defeat CR Belouizdad in CAFCL quarterfinal first leg

An expectant home crowd in Algiers was left frustrated and disappointed as Algerian champions CR Belouizdad crashed to a 1-0 CAFCL quarterfinal first leg defeat against Morocco’s Wydad AC on Saturday. Despite being up a player for over eighty minutes, CRB failed to substantially threaten the WAC defense and fell victim to a Guy Mbenza goal twenty seconds into the second half. Wydad take a lead and an away goal back home for the second leg in Casablanca where they will be heavy favorites to finish the job.

Wydad were hoping to use their illustrious attack as a strength but their approach was completely changed by misfortune in the opening five minutes. Jalal Daoudi came in for a midfield challenge but in his attempt to win the ball, the WAC full back left his foot high and stomped on the leg of CRB’s Mohamed Belkhir. Following a VAR review, Daoudi was given a straight red card and the visitors were down to ten players.

After surviving a tense opening ten minutes, Wydad did excellently to frustrate CRB despite the hosts’ numerical advantage. Towering CRB striker Karim Aribi provided a couple of threatening moments but lacked the necessary final touch throughout the match. For their part, Wydad continued attempting to push and nearly found a shock opener in the 37th minute when Ayoub El Amloud’s early cross from the right flank found strike Guy Mbenza, but the Congolese sent his header just wide.

The visitors came out of halftime with inspiration and caught CRB by surprise and stunned the home crowd by scoring 19 seconds into the second half. El Amloud found room once again on the flank and the right back sent in another excellent cross for Mbenza, and the leading scorer in Morocco’s Botola Pro made no mistake this time by bouncing his header past CRB keeper Toufik Moussaoui.

What followed was more frustration for CRB as they attempted to find a goal but their attack was lacking quality in the final third. Wydad resisted the urge to put all their players behind the ball and the strategy worked excellently to keep the hosts off the scoreboard. The introduction of forwards Kheireddine Merzougui and Hicham Khalfallah did little to remedy CRB’s attacking struggles and the only time Le Chabab came close was when the Khalfallah headed a lofted ball over to Merzougui, who flicked his header off the foot of the post in second half stoppage time.

Highlights from Algiers are below.

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