Egypt’s Al Ahly dominated the first leg of their CAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg, winning 2-1 against Raja Casablanca in Cairo, but supporters will be disappointed at the margin of victory and the allowance of an away goal. A penalty kick from Amr El Solia gave the hosts the lead and Hussein El Shahat added another but Mohamed Zrida’s goal just before halftime gave Raja hope that they can overturn the deficit when the teams square off again for the second leg in Casablanca.
Ahly spent plenty of the match in the Raja end and were boosted by a break in the opening ten minutes. A cross from Ahly left back Ayman Ashraf deflected off Mohamed Al Makaazi in the penalty area and after the referee was called to the monitor, a penalty kick was controversially awarded despite another angle appearing to show the ball might have gone off Al Makaazi’s leg instead. El Solia took advantage and put away his spot kick low and to the corner past Raja keeper Anas Zniti.
The hosts appeared to be on their way to recording a lopsided victory when Ahly’s dominance continued and resulted in another goal in the 23rd minute. El Solia’s lofted ball picked out Percy Tau on the left side of the Raja penalty area and the South African put in an excellent low cross to find El Shahat towards the far post, where he side footed a first time finish past Zniti.
However, Ahly lost their focus at a crucial time in first half stoppage time and allowed the visitors back into the tie. Al Maakazi sent in Abdelilah Madkour for an open cross and the right back picked out Zrida, who put his first time finish between the legs of Ahly goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy for what could be a crucial away goal.
Ahly came out determined to expand their lead and laid siege to the Raja penalty area in the second half. In the 59th minute it appeared another goal would arrive when Tau latched onto a ball over the top of the defense and slickly backheeled a pass to Mohamed Sherif. Sherif’s shot was well saved by Zniti but in the ensuing scramble, El Shahat’s rebound attempt was kept out by the hand of Raja center back Marouane Hadhoudi, forcing the official to issue a straight red card and award another penalty kick. Zniti then came up with a massive save to deny El Solia as he attempted to pick out the same spot.
Raja retreated back into a bunker following the red card and did well to frustrate the hosts for the remainder of the match. Ahly were restricted to half chances and almost conceded a second when Raja’s Zakaria Habti snuck past a few Ahly defenders on the dribble to set up a golden opportunity, but the substitute could only hit a weak effort with only El Shenawy to beat. Despite 25 shots and 11 shots on goal, Ahly failed to take advantage and build up a substantial lead to defend next week.
Highlights from Cairo are below.