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CAFCL: Wydad hang on for 2nd leg scoreless draw at home, advance to semifinals by thin margin

It was not the dominant performance that the home supporters wanted from their team in Casablanca, but Wydad are through to the CAF Champions League semifinals following a scoreless second leg draw against Algeria’s CR Belouizdad to advance 1-0 on aggregate. Visitors CRB put in an inspired effort to keep things suspenseful but came just shy of pulling even, and now Wydad will face the competition’s surprise team, Petro de Luanda, in the final four.

Despite Wydad’s trademark intense and deafening support, CRB played an ideal first half to limit the impact of the home support and keep the tie close. Neither team could put a shot on target in the opening 45 minutes and CRB actually came the closest to scoring first in the 19th minute when Zakaria Draoui put a lofted ball over the top behind the Wydad defense. WAC goalkeeper Ahmed Reda Tagnouti sprinted off his line and the resulting clearance bounced back off CRB forward Kheireddine Merzougui, requiring a scrambling clearance from WAC center back Amine Farhane as the ball bounced towards the empty net.

The tension continued to build after halftime as Wydad failed to break down CRB’s excellent defense. Belouizdad keeper Toufik Moussaoui had little trouble keeping out hopeful long range efforts from Zouheir El Moutaraji and Aymane El Hassouni. El Moutaraji had a wide open attempt from six yards out after Muaid Ellafi chipped a well timed cross but the WAC forward could only scuff his bicycle kick attempt wide.

CRB pushed numbers forward to make a furious rally in the final ten minutes and were unfortunate to not equalize. Substitute Adel Djerrar had an open look from ten yards out after a CRB free kick was cleared to him, but his shot was deflected wide. On the ensuing corner kick the ball came out to Mohamed Bakir for a cross that found giant striker Karim Aribi, whose header clanged off the post before Sofiane Bouchar could not get his feet right to turn in the rebound.

Video Assistant Referee created a couple of dramatic moments late on. CRB keeper Moussaoui scuffled with Ellafi and hit him on the head with an open hand, resulting in a red card following the VAR review. The real drama came in the final seconds as CRB made a final push with ten players. El Tagnouti came out to make a punch on a ball into the Wydad box and missed the ball, making contact with Ahmed Ait Abdesslem to draw the attention of VAR. Following a dramatic pause, the Wydad support erupted into joy when referee Amin Omar waved for play on and blew the final whistle shortly after.

Highlights of the match are below.

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