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Football

Al Ahly overcome TP Mazembe to qualify for fifth successive final

CAIRO

The roars of delight from Al Ahly’s players and fans told the story – the Egyptian giants had pulled off a remarkable comeback to crush Mazembe 3-0 on Friday night and book their place in yet another TotalEnergies CAF Champions League final.

With the first leg in Lubumbashi ending goalless, few could have predicted the drama that was to unfold in the return fixture under the lights in Cairo.  

Ahly fans thought they were staring elimination in the face when Joel Beya’s 58th-minute header found the net only for VAR to rule it out for an infringement in the build-up.

Marcel Koller’s side showed the composure and quality that has made them African club football’s pre-eminent force over the past decade by responding to the threat of the visitors.

Mohamed Abdelmonem’s thumping header put them ahead in the 68th minute, before late strikes from Wissam Abu Ali and Akram Tawfik completed what seemed like an exhilarating turnaround.

By the time Tawfik lashed home a third in the 12th minute of stoppage time, the ecstatic celebrations had long since begun in the stands as Al Ahly secured a mouthwatering final showdown with Tunisian heavyweights Esperance.

For Al Ahly, this was their latest demonstration of big-game prowess as they kept alive their hopes of landing their fourth TotalEnergies CAF Champions League crown in five years.

Led once again by the tireless Percy Tau, the record 11-time champions displayed tenacity, hunger and no shortage of quality to recover from the brink of elimination and carry Egyptian football’s flag into next month’s final.

For Mazembe, the pain of falling short in their bid to reach the final was compounded by Ahly’s late resurgence after running the Egyptians so close over two tightly-contested semi-final legs.

But the men from Cairo march on having snatched victory in typically dramatic fashion as they seek to maintain their iron grip on African club football’s biggest prize.

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