Substitute Anas Serrhat came off the bench to score a thunderous 78th minute winner as Wydad Athletic Club took a slim 2-1 advantage over South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns in the first leg of the African Football League final played in Casablanca Sunday night.
Abdelmounaim Boutouil had scored from the penalty spot for Sundowns in the 74th minute, cancelling out Rivaldo Coetzee’s first half own goal, but it was the home side who had the last laugh with a brilliant winner at a fully packed Mohamed V Complex.
The home side had a good first half and they went into the lead four minutes to the break when Coetzee turned the ball into his own net as he attempted to cut out a cross from Montasser Lahtimi. The winger had gone on a mazy run on the right, taking on his markers before breaking into the box and releasing the low cross.
Lahtimi had been bright all through the opening exchanges, and should have scored early on when he broke into the box, but a heavy touch saw Boutouil cut out his eventual shot.
Yahia Attiat Allah had another chance for Wydad when he took on a long range effort, but Sundowns keeper Ronwen Williams had it well covered.
On the other end, Sundowns’ best chance of the half was off Lesiba Nku who went on a good run after the ball was looped behind the defense, but his eventual shot came off the side netting.
In the second half, Sundowns had a better start as they pinned Wydad in their own half, searching for the equalizer. Khuliso Mudau had a long range effort from a freekick turned behind for a corner as Sundowns searched for the goal.
They were eventually rewarded in the 74th minute off a VAR-intervened penalty. Skipper Yahya Jabrane handled the ball inside the box as he tried to block a Teboho Mokoena shot. In his home country, defender Boutouil stepped up and scored, to level matters.
But that joy lasted only four minutes as Serrhat scored what would be the winner for Wydad, a brilliant shot on the half volley from distance after Marcello Allende’s headed clearance fell kindly into his path.
Off a counter, Wydad almost sealed the win in the 86th minute when substitutes Junior Sambou and Hamdou Elhouni combined off a counter attack, but the latter’s curling effort came cracking under the bar.
Sundowns put in their everything in the final minutes to try and force out at least a draw, but they couldn’t and are now left with a massive task at home next weekend to overturn the deficit.