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Sundowns, Al Ahly make Champions League semis

Mamelodi sundowns celebrate. PHOTO/Sundowns
  • Mamelodi Sundowns beat Algeria’s CRB
  • Ahly held Raja to a 0-0 draw
  • Sundowns face Wydad in the semis, Ahly play Esperance

Record champions Al Ahly and South African giants Malelodi Sundowns have both made it into the semi-final of the CAF Champions League.

Mamelodi Sundowns progressed after beating Algeria’s CR Belouizdad 2-1 at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria while Ahly progressed despite a 0-0 draw away to Raja Club Athletic in Morocco.
In Pretoria, Masandawana had to come from a goal down to earn victory on home soil, progressing 6-2 on aggregate having won the first leg 4-1 away from home last weekend.

Sundowns, winners of the title in 2016, have now set up a mouthwatering semi-final date against defending champions Wydad Athletic Club, who progressed to the last four on Friday evening after edging out Tanzania’s Simba 4-3 on post-match penalties.

Coming into the return fixture, the Algerians were under pressure to win by a margin of more than four goals to progress, while Sundowns only needed to avoid defeat or at worse, lose 2-0.

Belouizdad started well and they broke the deadlock after 24 minutes when Sofiane Bouchar finished off from a corner.

Sundwons equalize 

The home side however battled and drew level at the stroke of halftime when Themba ‘Mshishi’ Zwane scored with a delightful finish after picking up a pass from Thapelo Morena.

Sundowns turned the tie into their favour four minutes into the second half, Morena turning from provider to scorer, heading home a well taken cross from Khuliso Mudau.

In Casablanca, Ahly held on for a barren draw against a tough Raja side to make the last eight. The result sees Ahly go through 2-0 on aggregate, as they won by the same scoreline in the first leg played in Cairo last weekend.

Raja have bowed out against Ahly for a second consecutive season, having also met the Egyptians at the same stage last term. The home side will only have themselves to blame after squandering a myriad of scoring opportunities including a penalty right at halftime.

Playing at their iconic Mohamed V Complex, Raja hoped for a push from the crowd as they looked to overturn the 2-0 first leg deficit.

Ahly pressured to defend deep

Ahly celebrate

Ahly celebrate. PHOTO/Ahly

They pressured Ahly to defend deep and they had a chance finally after 28 minutes when Yousri Bouzouk found shooting space from a tight angle but Mohamed Elshenawy made a great save for a corner.

At the stroke of halftime, Raja were handed a golden chance to break the deadlock when an on-field review of the VAR by the referee awarded them a penalty following an Aliou Dieng foul on Bouzouk inside the box.

The Algerian took responsibility on his shoulders, but sent his penalty cracking under the bar, much to the relief of the Ahly players.

In the second half, Raja continued camping in Ahly’s half, but were never fortunate to score at least one goal to push their bid.

With quarter of an hour gone, they had another superb opportunity when a superb cross from the right found the run of Hamza Khabba at the backpost, but the latter’s touch went wide with the keeper well beaten.

Ahly did their bit well, defending their aggregate cushion to make the last four and keep their hopes of an 11th African title alive.

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