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VIDEO: Al Merrikh edge TP Mazembe in semifinal first leg
Knowing too well the daunting task of a second leg in Lubumbashi, the home team started on the front foot. They had a freekick in the first minute and saw, former CS Sfaxien striker, Didier Lebiri miss a close chance some ten minutes later. Merrikh’s upper hand, though, did not lead to a goal and the match settled to an even encounter at the half hour mark.
The conservative Mazembe, who were beginning to carve their first scoring opportunities, found themselves behind 3 minutes before the break. Kidiaba punched a long range effort onto the path of Francis Coffie and the Ghanaian striker duly obliged to break the deadlock.
The second half continued to be a typically edgy semifinal affair with the two teams giving as much as they got. This changed when Al Merrikh conceded their first home goal in the Champions League this year in the 75th minute. Roger Assale played a devastating pass to Thomas Ulimwengu and the Tanzanian slotted home the important away goal.
Only five minutes later, Bakri Al Madina ensured the scoreline would not be a repeat of their last meeting in Omdurman. He controlled a pass with the chest before turning for a superb volley past Kidiaba. The goal was his seventh of the tournament making him topscorer. Al Merrikh would have had a greater advantage for the second leg but a third goal was denied for a foul.
The second leg will be played in a week’s time in Lubumbashi. Meanwhile, Omdurman will witness more Champions League action when Al Hilal hosts USM Alger in the other semifinal.