Moroccan power club Wydad Casablanca put themselves in good position to advance to the CAF Champions League semi-finals with a successful first-leg outing in Algeria, obtaining a valuable road goal in their 1-1 draw against MC Alger. Penalty kick expert Yahya Jabrane put his spot kick just beyond MCA goalkeeper Ahmed Boutagga in the second half before Miloud Rebiai’s late equalizer ensured the hosts will have a fighting chance heading into the return leg in Casablanca.
Wydad asserted themselves well from the beginning and looked like the superior team throughout, but were a bit lacking with their finishing touch. One opportunity in the 12th minute saw a lobbed shot from Wydad loop over Boutagga, but a multiple MCA defenders backed up their keeper to clear the ball off the line. Wydad captain Walid El Karti’s disallowed goal in the 35th minute was the most notable first half incident, the midfielder finishing off the rebound after Ayoub El Kaabi’s header clattered off the crossbar. However, the linesman flagged for offside despite El Karti being clearly on, giving the hosts a needed let off.
The visitors maintained their superior level after the break and finally got their reward in the 66th minute. A long ball from Wydad’s defensive half was poorly dealt with by an MCA defender, giving plenty of room for substitute winger Mohamed Ounajem to dribble into the penalty box. Ounajem anticipated the challenge coming from Mouad Haddad and slyly gamed the covering center-back into tripping him up for a penalty kick opportunity. African Nations Championship winner Jabrane’s shot was read by Boutagga but he could not quite get a hand to the ball and it was 1-0 to the visitors.
MCA were limited in attack to some close calls and speculative long range efforts without troubling Wydad keeper Ahmed Reda Tagnouti for most of the match, but stepped up their efforts to find an equalizer. In the 83rd minute an inswinging free-kick from Chamseddine Harrag found center back Milous Rebiai, who did well to flick his skipping header by Tagnouti. The hosts nearly stole a winning goal in stoppage time through Sofiane Abdellaoui, but the midfielder could not direct a free header on target.
The teams will meet again in Casablanca next Saturday with the Moroccan side heavily favored to clinch their advancement. Highlights of the game are below.