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AFL: Wydad AC through to the final after overcoming Espérance on penalties

Senegalese striker Bouly Junior Sambou fired in the winning penalty kick for Wydad AC on Wednesday in Tunis as the Moroccan titans advanced past Tunisian club Espérance ST to the final of the inaugural African Football League. Sambou completed a perfect set of penalty kicks from Wydad, who advanced after a 1-0 second leg victory for Espérance left the teams even at 1-1 on the aggregate score. Wydad will face either Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa or reigning African club champions Al Ahly of Egypt in the AFL final which begins with the first leg on November 5.

As expected it was another fierce battle between the two North African giants with few scoring opportunities and plenty of physical play. Hosts Espérance controlled the majority of possession in the first half but Wydad defended excellently and prevented the Blood and Gold from putting a shot on target in the opening forty-five minutes.

The urgency increased from the hosts after halftime as the Wydad defense began to show signs of weakness. In the 66th minute the Tunisian club finally leveled the aggregate score when winger Oussema Bougherra found room on the left wing. Cutting inside onto his right foot, Bougherra sent in a cross for Rodrigues and the Brazilian’s powerful header was too much for Wydad goalkeeper Youssef El Motie to handle. Late on Rodrigues found the net again in what appeared to be a dramatic winning goal but the celebrations were cut short by a late flag from the assistant referee.

Penalty kicks were required to separate the teams and the experience of Wydad allowed the Casablanca giants to progress. After each team converted their first spot kicks, El Motie denied Rodrigues on the second attempt from Espérance and that was all Wydad needed. Young EST keeper Amanallah Memmiche, a late substitution brought in for veteran Moez Ben Cherifia to perform in the shootout, had no chance as Wydad converted all five of their spot kicks with excellent composure to clinch a spot in the final at the expense of their North African rivals.

Second leg highlights and the penalty kick shootout are below.

Match Highlights

Penalty Kicks

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