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Egypt's Al Ahly wins African Champions League against defending champion Wydad

Al Ahly players celebrate with the trophy after the CAF Champions League final against Wydad Athletic Club in Casablanca, Morocco on June 11th 2023.   -  
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Mosa'ab Elshamy/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.


Egypt's Al Ahly won the African Champions League on Sunday for a record-extending 11th continental club title, as a late header by defender Mohamed Abdelmonem wrestled the crown away from defending champion Wydad at its home stadium in Morocco.

Abdelmonem's 78th-minute goal saw the second leg of the final end 1-1 in Casablanca and gave Al Ahly a 3-2 aggregate win.

It is the Egyptian giant's third title in four years and was revenge for a loss to Wydad at the same Stade Mohammed V in the one-off final a year ago.

Yahia Attiyat Allah put Wydad ahead in the 27th minute when his left-footed free kick from out on the right side drifted past everyone and into the far corner of the net.

At 1-0 on the night, Wydad was winning on away goals and the home fans let off fireworks from that point on, causing referee Bamlak Tessema Weyesa to stop the game for a few minutes in the second half for the clouds of thick white smoke to clear.

Abdelmonem ended the celebrations for the Wydad supporters about 10 minutes after the short delay when he met Ali Maaloul's corner with a glancing header to take Al Ahly back to the top of African club soccer.

As the Al Ahly players celebrated the goal near a tiny pocket of their supporters, plastic bottles rained down on them from the Wydad fans.

There was a heavy security presence for the North African showdown, with lines of police emerging to surround the field in the final minutes of the game.

Ahead of kickoff, there were scuffles between Wydad supporters and Moroccan police near the stadium, with some fans bundled into police vans.

The 45,000-seat Stade Mohammed V was full two hours before kickoff.

Wydad, buoyed by a late goal of its own in the first leg to come away from Cairo with a narrow 2-1 loss, was in charge of most of the game in Casablanca.

Morocco international Attiyat Allah had two similar curling free kicks from the same place saved by Mohammed El Shenawy before his third attempt — which was more of a cross than a shot — went over everyone and past El Shenawy's right hand for the opening goal.

As the second half progressed, Wydad retreated in an attempt to defend its lead and was made to pay when Abdelmonem met Maaloul’s corner first and the ball skimmed off his head, across the goal and into the same corner that Attiyat Allah scored in.

Al Ahly was voted Africa's club of the 20th century and now has six more African club titles than its nearest challengers, Cairo rival Zamalek and Congo's TP Mazembe.

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