Defenders Badr Benoun and Yassir Ibrahim scored to spare the blushes of title-holders Al Ahly of Egypt Saturday, and Kaizer Chiefs of South Africa won with nine men on a dramatic CAF Champions League matchday 5.
Ibrahim equalised four minutes into added time after Benoun converted a penalty as Ahly snatched a 2-2 Group A draw away to bottom club Al Merrikh of Sudan in Omdurman to seal a quarter-finals place.
Ahly will advance to the knockout stage as runners-up, though, after Simba of Tanzania trounced V Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo 4-1 in Dar es Salaam to seal first place.
Chiefs edged understrength Wydad Casablanca of Morocco 1-0 in Soweto despite having Nigerian goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi sent off on 40 minutes and Serb forward Samir Nurkovic dismissed one minute from time.
The South African outfit can crown a first group appearance by reaching the quarter-finals from Group C if they win or force a score draw away to Horoya of Guinea next Saturday.
While Chiefs were defying the odds against Wydad, a second-minute Sekou Camara goal earned Horoya a 1-0 win over Petro Luanda in Angola.
Already-qualified Esperance of Tunisia surprisingly fell 2-1 to Teungueth of Senegal in Group D with Baye Diop scoring the 72nd-minute winner in Thies.
Previously winless Zamalek of Egypt upset second-place Mouloudia Alger of Algeria 2-0 in the same section through first-half goals from Youssef ‘Obama’ Ibrahim and Shikabala in Algiers.
Zamalek, runners-up to Ahly last season, will squeeze into the last eight if they win at home to Teungueth next Saturday and Mouloudia lose away to Esperance.
In Sudan, recently hired English coach Lee Clark watched his Merrikh side take a two-goal lead by half-time against record nine-time African champions Ahly.
– Mosimane tongue lashing –
Ramadan Agab scored his first Champions League goal of the season and Saifeldin Malik his sixth to leave Ahly staring at a second away loss in the section.
A half-time tongue lashing from South African coach Pitso Mosimane rejuvenated Ahly and Moroccan Benoun restored hope with his 81st-minute penalty before Ibrahim became the unlikely saviour with a header.
Clatous Chama starred for Simba, the surprise side of this Champions League, by scoring twice and setting up a goal for fellow Zambian Larry Bwalya before a crowd restricted to 10,000 because of the coronavirus.
Before Chama scored his first goal on the stroke of half-time, Mozambican Luis Miquissone had given Simba a lead that was shortlived as Zemanga Soze levelled within two minutes.
In Soweto, Akpeyi needlessly handled outside the box and was sent off with former South Africa international Itumeleng Khune taking his place.
Chiefs shrugged off the blow and a 48th-minute header from Bernard Parker broke the deadlock as the South African side avenged a four-goal hiding from Wydad two months ago.
Having secured a quarter-finals place in matchday 4, Wydad brought a virtual B team to South Africa so stars like leading scorer Ayoub el Kaabi would not have to quarantine when they returned to Morocco.
Veteran Faouzi Benzarti, the most successful African coach in CAF club competitions with five titles, did not travel either, putting assistant Mohamed Benchrifa in charge.
Chiefs were reduced to nine men on 89 minutes when Nurkovic was shown a red card after a second caution, and he and Akpeyi are automatically suspended for the crunch clash with Horoya in Conakry.
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