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Thursday, September 21, 2023

CAFCL: Deadly efficiency leads Wydad to ideal first leg victory in Luanda

Despite a hostile reception and overbearing heat, Moroccan champions Wydad AC emerged with a dream first leg result in their CAF Champions League semifinal, winning 3-1 against Petro Atlético in Luanda on Saturday. An own goal by CAFCL leading scorer Tiago Azulão along with goals from Yahya Jabrane and Guy Mbenza gave Wydad a three-goal lead before Petro’s Job tallied a consolation for the home side. Wydad will be widely expected to finish the job in front of their passionate support when the teams meet for the return leg in Casablanca.

Petro came out with as expected by flying forward in an attempt to put pressure on the visitors from Morocco and the start was promising. After a couple of threatening forays, however, the home support was stunned into silence when Wydad found the opener in the 16th minute. A dangerous inswinging free kick from the right flank by WAC left back Yahia Attiyat Allah curled into the six yard box and in an attempt to clear the ball, Petro striker Azulão instead flicked the ball by diving goalkeeper Wellington and into the net.

The Angolan side continued to look more threatening with wingers Gleison and Jaredi making plenty of dangerous dribbling runs but excellent performances from WAC center backs Achraf Dari and Amine Farhane kept goalkeeper Ahmed Reda Tagnouti’s goal relatively safe. Petro lost their focus at a crucial time and conceded a second goal just before halftime when WAC midfielder Jabrane was not closed down and unleashed a long distance blast from thirty yards out that flew past Wellington to give The Red Castle a 2-0 halftime lead.

Wydad continued to fortify their defense with a lead to defend as Petro desperately pushed to try and overturn the deficit. Gleison came close in the 48th minute when he collected a loose ball at the edge of the WAC penalty area and beat Tagnouti with a low shot, but the ball came off the post before striker Yano sent his rebound attempt over the bar.

The visitors struck one more demoralizing blow to cause many fans to leave early. In the 68th minute Wydad winger Zouheir El Moutaraji combined with Mbenza and had the ball tackled away by Petro center back Pedro Pinto but Pinto could not get to the ball as it rolled to the center of the penalty area, allowing Mbenza to smash home an easy finish from eight yards out.

Substitute Job got one back for Petro in the final ten minutes when his free kick from the left flank bounced through the box untouched, nestling inside the far post past Tagnouti. However, the tie appears to be out of reach for Petro with a monumental task awaiting them next week in Casablanca.

Highlights from the first leg in Luanda are below.