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AFL: Wydad take a narrow lead to South Africa following first leg victory

Moroccan titans Wydad AC hold a slight advantage in the final of the African Football League following Sunday’s 2-1 first leg victory over South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns in Casablanca. Anas Serrhat scored the match winner for Wydad after a penalty kick conversion from Sundowns defender Abdelmouniam Boutouil cancelled out the opener, an own goal by Sundowns defender Rivaldo Coetzee. The teams will clash again next Sunday in Pretoria where the winner will of the inaugural AFL will be crowned.

A loud and energized home support gave first leg hosts Wydad the boost they needed and Sundowns were on the defensive for long stretches. Despite seizing the offensive, there was only one shot registered on target by a Wydad attack that continues to struggle against higher level competition.

However it was individual brilliance and a stroke of fortune that led to the opening goal just before halftime for Wydad. An excellent dribbling run on the right wing from attacker Montasser Lahtimi set up a low cross that Coetzee directed into his own goal as he attempted to clear the ball.

Sundowns found their rhythm in the second half and outperformed the hosts, something that was rewarded with an equalizer at the 73 minute mark. A corner kick fell in the Wydad penalty area and after a scramble for the ball, a shot from Teboho Mokoena went off the outstretched arm of Wydad captain Yahya Jabrane. Following a long delay and Video Assistant Referee review, a penalty kick was awarded and the resulting spot kick from Abdelmounaim Boutouil was just enough to beat Wydad goalkeeper Youssef El Motie.

Having conceded an away goal that could be crucial next week, Wydad pushed to find another goal and the match winner came five minutes later from an unlikely source. A cross from the right wing was cleared by the head of Sundowns player Marcelo Allende out to the edge of the penalty area, where Serrhat collected the ball and fired a firm shot that went off the hand of Sundowns keeper Ronwen Williams on its way into the goal. Sundowns were fortunate to escape with a one-goal defeat after Wydad attacker Hamdou Elhouni hit the crossbar with a curling effort late on but it was a decent result in the end for the champions of South Africa.

Video of the goals from the first leg are below.

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