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Egyptian side Al Ahly lifted the CAF Champions League trophy on Friday courtesy of a 2-1 win over domestic rivals Zamalek.
Al Ahly came into the game as slight favourites, having roared to the Egyptian league title last season, but second-placed Zamalek were ready for the challenge and gave their opponents a real test throughout.
After a minute’s silence to honour the life of Diego Maradona, the two sides got proceedings underway, and it was a disastrous start for Zamalek, who found themselves behind after just five minutes.
Some poor defending gifted Amr El-Sulya a free header from a corner, and the Al Ahly man made no mistake as he slotted home.
It took Zamalek a while to respond. They enjoyed a lot of possession but found it very difficult to break down the stubborn defence of the Egyptian champions, who were happy to sit back and watch their opponents struggle.
Zamalek knew they needed something special to get back into it, and that’s exactly what they got through midfielder Shikabala around the 30-minute mark.
Cutting in from the right wing, the 34-year-old unleashed a picture-perfect curling effort which cannoned off the underside of the crossbar and into the back of the net. It was the kind of goal you could watch over and over again.
Unsurprisingly, Al Ahly were flustered and welcomed the half-time break, and with their composure restored, they should have regained the lead early in the second 45, as Hussein El Shahat somehow managed to fire wide in front of an open goal.
Zamalek continued to dominate possession and looked more likely to snatch a winner, but it was Al Ahly who were celebrating when all was said and done. Afsha’s impressive 83rd-minute strike left Zamalek goalkeeper Gabaski with no chance and steered Al Ahly to their ninth Champions League triumph.
Alongside the trophy, Al Ahly will be rewarded with a trip to the upcoming Club World Cup, where they could meet German giants Bayern Munich on their quest for more silverware.