Johannesburg (AFP) – South African Percy Tau scored two goals and created two as CAF Champions League title-holders Al Ahly of Egypt thumped 10-man Entente Setif of Algeria 4-0 on Saturday in their semi-final first leg.
Tau opened and completed the scoring in Cairo, while Taher Mohamed and Mohamed Sherif also netted as 10-time champions Ahly took advantage of Setif having Amir Karaoui sent off when trailing 1-0 on 35 minutes.
If Ahly qualify for the final after the return match in Algiers next Saturday, they will likely face Wydad Casablanca in a repeat of the 2017 title decider won by the Moroccan outfit.
In Angola, rival captains Tiago Azulao of Petro Luanda and Yahya Jabrane of Wydad scored as the visitors took a significant step towards reaching a fifth final by beating the surprise qualifiers 3-1.
Seeking a record third consecutive Champions League title, Ahly had a goal correctly ruled offside and rattled the woodwork twice before Tau struck on 30 minutes at the Al Salam Stadium.
Mohamed crossed and Tau nodded past goalkeeper Sofiane Khedairia, whose brilliant saves had enabled Setif to shock Esperance of Tunisia in the quarter-finals last month.
A highly-charged north African showdown boiled over when Karaoui stamped on the foot of Hussein el Shahat and the referee changed an initial yellow card to red after viewing the foul on the VAR monitor.
Despite being disadvantaged numerically, Setif should have levelled as half-time approached, but unmarked Hicham Belkaroui fluffed a chance at the far post after a free-kick landed favourably for him.
– Sub Sherif strikes –
Ahly took command in the second half to score at regular intervals and become only the third club after Nigerian club Heartland and Zamalek of Egypt to win a semi-final first leg by four goals.
A brilliant Tau turn and cross allowed Mohamed to double the lead and substitute Sherif was on the pitch just four minutes when he chipped the ball over Khedairia after being set up by the South African.
Tau completed the scoring in the final minute of regular time, tapping a low Mohamed Hany cross into the net from close range.
Earlier, Brazilian Azulao scored an own goal 16 minutes in a first leg watched by a near-capacity crowd at the 50,000-seat Estadio 11 de Novembro.
After dominating first-half possession without having a single shot on target, the hosts suffered a major blow on 45 minutes when Jabrane doubled the lead with a fierce shot.
Petro were foiled by the woodwork early in the second half before Congo Brazzaville international Guy Mbenza put 1992 and 2017 champions Wydad three goals ahead on 68 minutes.
Veteran Petro midfielder Job came off the bench in place of Brazilian Gleison Moreira and claimed a consolation goal direct from a free-kick with nine minutes remaining.
To progress, Petro will have to score at least three goals in the second leg this Friday in Casablanca, where they were crushed 5-1 by Wydad in a group match last month.
And history is against Petro, as none of the nine clubs who previously lost at home in the first leg of a Champions League semi-final managed to overcome the aggregate deficit.
Petro will travel to Morocco without Brazilian midfield enforcer William Soares, who was red-carded in added time after being cautioned twice.
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