VIDEO: USM Alger edge Al-Merikh in CAF Champions League
Algerian giants USM Alger (USMA) edged-out Sudanese powerhouse Al-Merikh in a hotly contested Group B clash that leaves USMA on maximum points from their first two matches.
A second half strike from Man of the Match Youcef Belaili was enough to secure victory for the Algerians, after a late Al-Merikh equalizer was waived off.
The result leaves USM Alger top of the group on six points. Al-Merikh lie second with three.
USMA: Zemmamouche, Meftah, Khoualed, Mazari, Boudebouda, Khoudri, El Orf, Andria, Ben Moussa, Segeur, Belaili
Al-Merikh: Salim, Agab, Jabson, Kamal, Musab Omer; Ayman, Bakhiet, Dufor, Raji, Libre, Bakri
USMA started stronger, while Al-Merikh looked to play an open game that would nearly see them punished just three minutes in.
Belaili almost opened the scoring when he glided past Amir Kamal to find Khoudri, who missed from three yards out.
USMA were at it again, eight minutes later a long ball from Nassredine Khoulaed caused problems for Al-Merikh keeper Jamal Salim who only managed to clear as far as the oncoming Belaili, who then tried to chip the onrushing keeper, missing by half an inch.
The Sudanese were finding it hard to create anything in the opening exchanges in a half that was dominated by USMA.
Five minutes to half time a Boudebouda cross found the head of Segeur who headed on to the crossbar. USMA were getting closer but Al-Merikh managed to keep a clean sheet through halftime.
In the second half, Al-Merikh came out the stronger side, managing to keep possession and threaten Zemmamouche’s goal.
Although the Sudanese started to play better, it was the former Esperance man Youcef Belaili to land the ultimate blow with a well placed shot from the edge of the area that sent the crowd into a frenzy.
This goal gave USMA confidence to go and grab another goal and Al-Merikh started to play a high-risk, high back-line in a bid to equalize. USMA striker Andria kept finding space behind the Sudanese defence but didn’t make much of his chances.
Al-Merikh brought on two attacking players in Okrah and Coffie to try and get a goal. Okrah was instrumental. As soon as he was introduced, Merikh started to control the match and create opportunities.
The dubious moment came in the 87th minute when Coffie took an outswinging corner that fell to Sharaf El Din who headed home what looked to be the equalizer. However, the goal wasn’t given. The terrific finish was ruled out by the linesman who said that the ball had gone out before going in again and landing to Sharf El-Din. USMA then held on in what was a very nervy ending for the Algerians.
With this result, USMA lead the group and Al-Merikh stay second awaiting tomorrows results from the other group match between ES Setif and MC El Eulma. USMA host MC El Eulma next while Merikh will stay and camp in Algeria until the next group match against ES Setif in a fortnight.
WATCH Yousef Belaili’s goal:
WATCH Al-Merikh’s disallowed goal:
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