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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Botola Pro: Wydad cruise to victory over Olympique de Safi; DHJ and MAT play out 2-2 draw

A couple of exciting matches took place in Morocco’s Botola Pro on Tuesday with four goals in each fixture. Wydad Casablanca are now four points clear of rivals Raja following their 3-1 victory over Olympique de Safi that came courtesy of a Mouaid Ellafi double, the Libyan providing two first-half goals to give Wydad a lead that could not be overturned. In the earlier match Difaâ El Jadidi and Moghreb Tetouan were destined to end with a 2-2 draw as both teams increased their efforts in response to the other.

Wydad took advantage of an Olympique de Safi side that struggled to get comfortable in the opening exchanges at the Stade Mohamed V. In the 11th minute the visitors failed to organize their defensive line and Ayoub El Kaabi snuck in behind to get on the receiving end of a well-placed cross. El Kaabi was unable to get a head to the ball but the service bounced through to the diminutive Libyan playmaker Ellafi, who calmly took the ball down before slotting a finish inside Marouane Bessak’s near post. Another excellent service from the right flank found Ellafi who snuck in to put his bouncing header past Bessak in the 25th minute.

Safi worked their way back into the match and provided a bit of a threat to Wydad’s desired result. A few minutes after Ellafi’s second goal, Walid Sabbar sent in a corner kick that found Moncef Amri at the far post for a sublimely struck volley. After the halftime break Wydad managed to assert themselves more and contain the Safi attack until El Kaabi provided a cross in the 87th minute to find Ayoub El Amloud, who kept his volley low and just beyond Bessak to put the match away.

DHJ and Moghreb Tetouan could not separate each other throughout their match as every time DHJ took the lead, MAT would find a way to restore parity. In the 15th minute Chouaib El Maftoul opened the scoring for DHJ by taking advantage of the chaos created by a corner kick to send his low shot through the crowd and past a helpless Yahia El Filali in the MAT goal. Moghreb Tetouan found their equalizer soon after halftime when Hicham Khaloua barely kept the ball from going over the end line, lifting up a cross to the far post for Mohamed Kamal to surge in for the finish.

The hosts thought they had the match won when a lengthy VAR review determined a handball had been committed by MAT on a service into their penalty area, allowing veteran midfielder Mehdi Karnass to convert his spot kick and put DHJ up in the 81st minute. However, once again VAR came into play late into second half stoppage time and a penalty was awarded for another handball, this time to MAT. Hamza El Moussaoui kept his cool to equalize and ensure that the teams shared the points.

Highlights from both games are below.

Wydad Casablanca 3-1 Olympique de Safi

Difaâ el Jadidi 2-2 Moghreb Tetouan