Zouheir El Moutaraji scored an eye-catching double on Monday night, to hand Wydad Athletic Club a 2-0 win over defending champions Al Ahly SC of Egypt, as the Moroccans clinch the 2021-22 CAF Champions League title at the Mohamed V Stadium in Casablanca.
The forward who missed the second leg of the semifinal against Petro de Luanda of Anhola due to suspension, scored a goal in either half, to hand Wydad Casablanca their first Caf Champions League title since 2017, when they coincidentally beat Ahly 2-1 on goals aggregate to lift the crown.
The defeat means 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 was also vanquished.
Playing in front of a packed Mohamed V Stadium, and with noise decibels cranking up in the maximum, not winning it was not an option for Wydad, and they showed their intent from the word go.
The first goal scored as early as the 15th minute, settled any flailed nerves, among the players, and the sound in the stadium injected the hunger of winning a title on home soil, into their veins.
The goal came after a sloppy Ahly defense, lost the ball cheaply on the right, allowing Moutaraji to race on his wheels before unleashing an unstoppable belter from range.
After 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.
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 flashed 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 tapped a low ball to Congo Brazaville forward, Guy Mbenza; but much to the relief of the Egyptians, the Burnley forward blew the chance over the bar.
Early in the second half, Wydad completed the job, being the faster of the two Maghrib rivals to get off the blocks.
In just two minutes, it was 2-0 and the stadium’s roof was lifted with celebration.
A superb counterattack saw Jaadi go off on the right before slashing across. El Moutaraji sneaked behind Mohamed Hany to tap in the ball, but it was at first 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, Coach Mosimane threw caution out of the window, pulling Hussein El Shahaat for Magdy Afsha, Ahmed Abdelkader for Mohamed Sheriff, and later; defender Hany came off for Salah Mohsen, just as Amr El Solia was brought in for Hamdi Fathi.
Ahly had the chances, first Afsha’s had a clean shot from distance but it was saved by Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti while Maaloul had another fly over from inside the box.
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.
They piled in more pressure, but it never seemed to be their day as they couldn’t conjure a way back, so their chase at history ended in a mirage in Casablanca.
Reporting by Chinedum Ohanusi; Editing by Adeniyi Bakare