Morocco resumes continental domination Wydad edge reach African Football League final

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Wydad Casablanca withstood immense late pressure to eliminate Esperance 5-4 on penalties and book their place in the African Football League final after a dramatic semi-final.

Locked at 1-1 on aggregate, the Moroccans relied on their nerve in the shootout to progress following a 1-0 win for Tunisian side Esperance after extra time.

In front of a fervent home crowd in Tunis, Esperance dominated the second leg but left it late to finally equalise when Rodrigues Silva struck with two minutes left.

The Tunisians had earlier won a string of corners as Wydad’s defence clung on amid relentless waves of pressure.

Oussema Bouguerra went close before Silva thought he had scored after firing through a crowded box, only for his effort to be disallowed for offside.

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Esperance continued to force the issue in extra time with Wydad now looking ragged as the hosts sensed blood.

The stadium erupted when Silva eventually found the breakthrough, rifling in with a first-time finish to level the tie at 1-1.

Wydad survived Esperance’s second leg onslaught thanks to epic defending and sheer willpower before winning the mental battle when it mattered most.

The Tunisian club were distraught after dominating proceedings only to fall short, punished for their lack of decisive finishing.

But Wydad demonstrated remarkable composure and grit when backed into a corner to wrestle back control and book their place in AFL history.

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The Moroccans summoned remarkable composure in the shootout as Achraf Dari, Yahya Jabrane, Aymane El Hassouni, Yahya Attiat-Allah and Ayoub El Kaabi all converted.

With Rodrigues Silva and Abdelkader Bedrane missing for Esperance, Wydad prevailed 5-4 on penalties to clinch progress amid unforgettable scenes of joy.

The Moroccans will face South African club Mamelodi Sundowns in Sunday’s final after their incredible act of escapology.

The inaugural African Football League trophy now tantalisingly awaits Wydad as they prepare to meet Sundowns in a mouth-watering showdown.

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