El Moutaraji double delivers third TotalEnergies CAF Champions League title to Wydad

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Zouheir El Moutaraji scored a spectacular goal to set Wydad Casablanca on their way to victory
Zouheir El Moutaraji scored a spectacular goal to set Wydad Casablanca on their way to victory

Zouheir El Moutaraji scored a precious double to hand Wydad Athletic Club a 2-0 win over defending champions Al Ahly and clinch the 2021-22 TotalEnergies CAF Champions League title at the Mohamed V Stadium in Casablanca on Monday.

The forward who missed the second leg of the semi final against Petro de Luanda due to suspension scored a goal in either half, handing Wydad their first title since 2017, when they coincidentally beat Ahly again to lift the crown.

Ahly’s dream of becoming the first team to win three consecutive titles and clinching a record extending 11th were swept away, while coach Pitso Mosimane’s hope of a record-equaling fourth Champions League title also went the same way.

In front of a packed Mohamed V Stadium, noise decibels cranking up in the maximum, Wydad couldn’t think of a loss. They showed their intent from the word go, the sound in the stadium injecting the hunger of a title into their veins.

The brilliant start created the first chance of the game after just 10 minutes when Yahya Jebrane won the ball in midfield before spraying Guy Mbenza through. However, the Congo Brazzaville forward’s rasping shot from the edge of the area came off the bar.

But that served as the warning bell to Ahly. Five minutes later, they were picking the ball in their net, thanks to a scorching effort from El Moutaraji.

After Ahly lost the ball cheaply on the right, and Moutaraji picked on his wheels before unleashing an unstoppable belter from range.

Aftre conceding, Ahly came alive and turned the game in their favour. In the 19th minute Ali Maaloul curled in an inviting ball to Hussein El Shahaat, but the latter’s effort at goal was picked out by the keeper.

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In the 22nd minute, Taher Mohamed sighted space from distance for a shot but it was deflected out for a corner. Ahly won two more in succession and on the second, Yasser Ibrahim flushed a header just wide after peeling off his marker to connect to Maaloul’s delivery.

Ahly were almost caught on the counter in the 31st minute when the influential Jebrane picked the ball and fed off Reda Jaadi who slapped a low ball to Mbenza. However, the burly forward’s shot went wide, much to the relief of the Egyptian side.

They continued their dominance and overall had 68pc of possession in the opening half, but couldn’t show a goal for their effort.

In the second half, Wydad completed the job. They were fast off the blocks once again and just two minutes in, it was 2-0 and the stadium’s roof was lifted with celebration.

A superb counter attack saw Jaadi go off on the right before slashing a cross. El Moutaraji sneaked behind Mohamed Hany to tap the ball but it was saved by Mohamed Elshenawy. But on the second bite of the cherry off the spilled ball, the forward thumped home.

With a two goal burden to carry, Coach Mosimane threw caution out of the window, pulling Hussein El Shahaat for Magdy Afsha, Ahmed Abdelkader for Mohamed Sheriff while later, defender Hany came off for Salah Mohsen as Amr El Solia was brought in for Hamdi Fathi.

The offensive changes forced Wydad to defend from deep. Ahly had the chances. Afsha’s shot from distance was saved by Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti while Maaloul had another fly over from inside the box.

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Mohsen came close nine minutes to time when he ran on to a freekick inside the six yard area, but Tagnaouti made a close range save.

Ahly piled in more pressure, but it never seemed to be their day as they couldn’t conjure a way back, their chase at history ending in a mirage in Casablanca.

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