Johannesburg (AFP) – Unfancied Petro Luanda of Angola and perennial title challengers Wydad Casablanca of Morocco on Saturday became the first qualifiers for the CAF Champions League quarter-finals.
But there was no joy for two of the three most successful sides in the marquee African club competition with Al Ahly and Zamalek of Egypt both losing in a drama-filled matchday 4.
Chabab Belouizdad and Entente Setif of Algeria, Esperance of Tunisia and Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa all won and are set to make the knockout stage.
Raja Casablanca of Morocco conceded and lost for the first time in six qualifying and group matches, but should still advance while goal-shy Ahly can go through, but only as a group runner-up.
The individual honours were claimed by Brazil-born Petro captain Tiago Azulao, whose early and late first-half goals set up a 3-0 triumph over fellow Angolan outfit Sagrada Esperanca in Luanda.
Petro, whose only previous appearance in the knockout phase was 21 years ago, started with six Angolans, four Brazilians and a Portuguese, and the mix proved far too strong for Sagrada in Group D.
Azulao netted within a minute of the kick-off and his second goal, just before half-time, raised his overall tally to five, making him the leading Champions League scorer this season.
Erico Castro completed the rout deep in added time by converting a penalty against opponents who have failed to score in four group games.
Wydad completed a double over Zamalek by winning 1-0 in Cairo through an early second-half penalty slotted Jorginho-style into the net by captain Yahya Jabrane.
Petro have 10 points and Wydad nine with two rounds to come while Zamalek (two) and Sagrada (one) will be playing only for pride.
Zamalek sacked French coach Patrice Carteron after failing away to Wydad, and rehired 75-year-old Portuguese Jesualdo Ferreira in a vain attempt to turn the tide.
– Sundowns double –
South Africa-born Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane watched the record 10-time African champions lose again to Sundowns, with Namibian Peter Shalulile scoring the goal that delivered a 1-0 win in Johannesburg.
After defeating Ahly only once in 10 attempts over 20 years, Sundowns have now achieved the feat twice in 15 days, having also triumphed 1-0 in Cairo.
Mosimane joined Ahly from Sundowns and this week signed a two-year contract extension reportedly worth $166,000 (152,000 euros) a month.
Sundowns top Group A with 10 points while Ahly and Sudanese sides Al Hilal and Al Merrikh all have four points.
Poor finishing has put the Cairo Red Devils under pressure as they chase a record third straight Champions League title with no goals in three of four group matches.
Four-time African champions Esperance and Belouizdad need one point each to progress from Group C after convincing victories.
Esperance beat Etoile Sahel 2-0 in a Tunisian derby while Belouizdad took advantage of Botswana visitors Jwanang Galaxy having Moagi Sechele red-carded during the first half to win 4-1 in Algiers.
Defeats for Raja and South African side AmaZulu, who began the matchday occupying the top two positions, threw Group B open.
Horoya ended a three-match losing streak by coming from behind to edge Raja 2-1 in Conakry with Yakhouba Barry converting a 29th-minute penalty to capture maximum points.
Setif, much improved after losing to AmaZulu in Durban, won the return match 2-0 under caretaker coach Reda Bendriss after Tunisian Nabil Kouki was fired.
Raja have nine points and Setif and AmaZulu six each. Horoya have only three but if they win their remaining two matches, could snatch second place.
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