Wydad Casablanca (0) 0
Kaizer Chiefs (1) 1 (Nurković 34’)
On a big night for the Amakhosi in Casablanca, the club took a huge step towards reaching a first African Champions League Final, as they defeated Wydad Casablanca 1-0 in the first leg of their massive semi-final clash.
Against the odds, Chiefs stunned the home team, who had not been beaten in six previous home games against South African opposition.
Samir Nurković grabbed the game’s only goal in the 34th minute with a good finish from a Njabulo Blom cross to give Chiefs the crucial advantage and a vital away goal ahead of the second leg.
The game started off with Chiefs holding up the ball well and frustrating the hosts by not allowing them to attack high up the field, which led to Wydad getting increasingly frustrated and resorting to a physical approach.
In the sixth minute of the game Yahya Jabrane elbowed Leonardo Castro as they dueled for an aerial ball, but Chiefs gave as good in the physical exchanges in the first half.
The hosts felt Willard Katsande fouled El Houssini in the 18th minute, with the ball falling to Yahya El Idrissi, who drove the ball wide of goal, with the home side tussling with Katsande and Blom in the aftermath of the spurned chance.
Bruce Bvuma pulled off a fantastic save half hour into the game and palmed a header from close range by Muaid Ellafi over his crossbar, in the first time he was called into action in the game.
Then a piece of history was made by Chiefs as Nurković became the first Chiefs player to score a goal, which was given after confirmation from the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).
After some good work from Blom down the right to collect a pass from Reeve Frosler, Blom managed to keep himself in an onside position and timed his run perfectly to get the ball ahead of Amine Abdoulfath. Blom then sent in a telling cross, which found Nurković, whose clinical first time shot gave Wydad goalkeeper Ahmed Tagnaouti no chance to put Chiefs ahead against the run of play in the 34th minute.
Bvuma again stood tall for Chiefs in first half stoppage time, leaping off the ground and jumping to his right to push away a free kick from the right edge of the Chiefs 18 yard area, which was well floated over the wall by El Houssini.
The Chiefs keeper was up to the challenge as he watched the ball all the way and managed to pull off a brave save to ensure Chiefs went into the break 1-0 ahead.
Bvuma made a save at his near post early in the second half as the hosts launched an onslaught on the Chiefs goal looking for an equalizer, as they threw everything at the Amakhosi to get back into the game.
Houssini theatrically went down in the Chiefs 18-yard area, without being touched by any Amakhosi players, as Wydad tried all they could to snatch an equaliser.
The Chiefs keeper was called into action yet again in the 57th minute and did well to stop a close-range attempt from Ayoub El Kaabi after he had connected with Idrissi’s cross from the left.
Bvuma managed to wait until the attacker got to the ball before narrowing the angle and blocked his attempt at goal. Man of the match Bvuma was not yet done and on 64 minutes he was again at his sublime best pushing over another well driven shot from the edge of the 18-yard area from El Houssini.
Chiefs held off a late offensive onslaught to win an away game against a team from North Africa in the CAF Champions League for the first time ever. Previously they had lost to Zamalek, Esperance, Raja Casablanca and Wydad Casablanca, but on the night they pulled off a heroic win.
Amakhosi will now look to close out the game when they host the Moroccans in the second leg next week at the FNB Stadium.
With Bruce Bvuma’s heroic’s seeing Chiefs keep their 10th clean sheet in the current CAF Champions League campaign, it was also Chiefs sixth victory in the 2020-21 CAF Champions League – their most wins in a single CAF Champions League campaign, after winning five games in 1993.
Fact of the game – This was the seventh time a South African club was participating in the CAF Champions League semi-finals and the first time a South African team had ever won an away leg. Six times previously South African teams had failed to win away in a CAF Champions League semi-final.
Number of the game 1 – This was Chiefs second game in Morrocco and it was their first victory after a 2-0 loss to Raja Casablanca in the 2015 First Round Second Leg, which was also held at the Mohammed V Stadium.
MVP – There is no question that Bvuma stood between Wydad Casablanca and a number of goals, making telling saves time after time. Nurković demonstrated his coolness in front of goal when slotting home Blom’s assist.
Chiefs: Bvuma; Cardoso, Ngezana, Mathoho, Sasman (Zulu 61’), Frosler, Blom (Baccus 73), Katsande, Parker ©, Castro (Agay 80’), Nurković
Subs not used: Akpeyi, Moleko, Agay, Matsheke, Ngcobo, Mashiane, Kambole
Wydad: Tagnaouti; El Ami Oud, Aboulfati, Dari, El Idrissi, El Hassouni (Saidi 90’), El Karti ©, Jabrane, Mohammed, Ellafi (Msuva 69’), El Kaabi
Subs not used: Siouddi; Saidi, Farhane, Serrhat, Chrachem, Ait Allal, Rahim, Aouk
What next – Chiefs are next in action on Saturday when they host Wydad in the second leg of the CAF Champions League semi-finals.