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CAF Champions League: Wydad Casablanca reach final with 10 men

Sun, 22 Oct 2017

Johannesburg: Wydad Casablanca of Morocco survived the red-carding of Amine Atouchi to defeat USM Alger of Algeria 3-1 Saturday and reach the CAF Champions League final.

With the first leg of the semi-final ending 0-0 in Algiers last month, Wydad qualified 3-1 on aggregate to face Al Ahly of Egypt or Etoile Sahel of Tunisia in the two-leg final.

Former champions Etoile hold a 2-1 lead over record eight-time title-holders Ahly going into the return match in Mediterranean city Alexandria Sunday.

Wydad will be away in the first leg of the final next weekend and at home a week later with a record $2.5 million (2.1 million euros) first prize on the line.

The African champions also qualify to play Pachuca of Mexico in the even more lucrative FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates during December.

Defender Atouchi was sent off on 56 minutes in a packed 65,000-seat Stade Mohammed V in the Moroccan commercial capital just after Wydad had taken a two-goal lead.

Walid el Karti broke the deadlock 26 minutes into the north African showdown and Achraf Bencharki doubled the advantage with 54 minutes gone.

USM took advantage of having an extra man to halve the deficit after 68 minutes when Ayoub Abdellaoui netted.

Another Algerian goal would have brought the teams level on the night, and put USM into an aggregate lead on the away-goal rule.

But it was the Moroccan outfit who had the final say as Bencharki scored his second goal of the match three minutes into stoppage time.

Wydad have reached the final of the Champions League -- formerly the African Cup of Champions Clubs -- twice before with mixed outcomes.

They defeated Al Hilal of Sudan 2-0 on aggregate in 1992, but lost 1-0 to Esperance of Tunisia six years ago.

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