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CAF CL: Wydad hold Belouizdad to book semi-final slot

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Wydad Athletic Club celebrate qualifing for the semifinals during the CAF Champions League 2021/22 quarterfinal match between Wydad Athletic Club and CR Belouizdad held at the Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca in Morocco on 24 April 2022 ©Imad Attalai/BackpagePix

Wydad Athletic Club held off pressure from CR Belouizdad to play to a barren draw at the Mohamed V Complex in Casablanca on Saturday and book a slot in the semi-final of the TotalEnergies CAF Champions League with a 1-0 aggregate score.

The Moroccan giants had won 1-0 in the first leg in Algiers last weekend and that result proved to be the decider.

They have now earned a date with Petro de Luanda in the semis, a side they thrashed 5-1 when they met in the last match of the group phase.

A last minute VAR check caused moments of tension for Wydad when the referee had to go to the pitch-side monitor to check whether keeper Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti had fouled Ahmed Ait Abdesslem as they battled for a cross.

However, the whole stadium, packed to the rafters, breathed a collective sigh of relief as the referee whistled play on after the on-pitch review.

This was just after Belouizdad had been reduced to 10 men at the stroke of 90 minutes after another VAR review saw goalkeeper Toufik Moussaoui red carded for a retaliatory push on the face on Wydad’s Muaid Ellafi.

Fans during the CAF Champions League 202122 quarterfinal match between Wydad Athletic Club and CR Belouizdad held at the Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca in Morocco on 24 April 2022

With the Algerians having exhausted their substitutions, skipper Chemseddine Nessakh moved from the left side of defence into goal for the five minutes of added time.

It had been a hugely competitive game over both halves with Belouizdad hugely determined to overturn the result from the first leg.

They had a 19th minute chance when a clearance from the Wydad keeper bounced off Kheiredine Merzougui but defender Amine Farhane recovered well to clear a yard off the line.

In the 21st minute, Merzougui floated in a corner at the near post met by Chouaib Keddad, but the defender’s flicked header flew inches wide.

In the second half, Wydad who were pushed hard by the visitors in the opening half tried to be more adventurous moving forward.

They had chances with Zouheir El Moutaraji’s shot from distance comfortably saved by the keeper while Aymane El Hassouni’s low effort from distance was also pushed away by the keeper.

But towards the final quarter of an hour, Belouizdad turned the pressure on their hosts and they were denied by the woodwork seven minutes to time when Karim Aribi’s header from the edge of the six yard box off a Mohamed Bakir cross coming off the upright.

The Algerians piled in the pressure, but Wydad held on to remain on course for a third Champions League title.

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