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Holders Wydad win at home to keep title defense alive

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Wydad celebrate. PHOTO/Wydad
  • Wydad beat Vita Club 1-0 in Casablanca
  • They moved top of Group A with six points
  • The game was a catch up fixture

Wydad Athletic kept their CAF Champions League title defense hopes on track with a 1-0 win over AS Vita Club of DR Congo in a Group A catch up fixture in Casablanca.

The game, which was a deferred match day one fixture had been postponed due to Wydad’s participation in last month’s FIFA Club World Cup.

Despite facing a hugely defensive Vita Club, the Moroccan giants did what was needed, winning at home to move to six points and top of the group.

Mohamed Ounajem’s deflected strike, later credited as a Guy Magema own goal was the difference in the catch-up fixture at the Mohamed V Complex.

This was also coach Juan Carlos Garrido’s first match in charge in the Champions League since his return. The Spaniard came back to Wydad for a second spell after the giants fired Tunisian Mehdi Nafti foillowing a spate of undesirable results and performances.

Ounajem create goal with first touch

The lone goal of the match was s cored in the 55th minute. Ounajem created the goal with his first touch of the ball, barely seconds into the pitch. He made a daunting run on the right taking a shot that deflected off Magema to beat the keeper at his near post. The winger had just come on for Hicham Boussefiane.

Prior to that, Wydad had dominated the match against a Vita side that had chosen to poay behind the ball, but were yet to break the deadlock.

In the opening half the best chance was in the 28th minute when Bouly Junior Sambou rose to head from a corner, but the effort was denied by the crossbar.
In the second half, Wydad were off faster off the blocks and changes made by the returning coach Juan Carlos Garrido paid off just 10 minutes after the restart.

From then on, it was Wydad all the way, with Vita defending deep. With bodies defending from the edge of the box, the home side tried to change tact and shoot from distance with keeper Yahya Jebrane twice denied by the keeper.

On the hour mark, they had a golden chance to extend the lead when the ball was clipped to right back Ayoub El Amloud, but his shot was saved one on one with the keeper.

Late chance to complete the win 

Late into the match, substitute Muaid Ellafi had a similar chance, but his shot through on goal rolled wide.

Meanwhile, last season’s losing finalists and record champions Al Ahly will also play their catch up fixture this weekend when they take on Cameroon’s Cotonsport in Cairo on Saturday.

They will be under pressure to win at home, as they have not won a single match in Group B. They just have a single point off last weekend’s pulsating draw with Mamelodi Sundowns.

They are keen to earn their first win, and will be fancied for victory at home against a Cotonsport side that has lost back to back matches at home.

Ahly come into the match from a league fixture against Al Daklyeh, which they drew 1-1, conceding a late equalizer. But, they will fancy their continental chances as a victory at their home turf in Cairo will take them to four points, two closer of second placed Al Hilal of Sudan.

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