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First leg of CAF Champions League final ends in a tie amidst VAR controversy

Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images

The first leg of the ended in a 1-1 tie between and Espérance as two VAR calls went against the Moroccans, denying them an equalizer in the dying minutes of the first half and also a penalty in the second half.

In a game full of incessant fouling and bickering, Egyptian referee was forced to dish out four yellow cards in just the opening 45 minutes.

READ: Egypt’s Gehad Grisha to take charge of CAF Champions League final

The first card of the night went to Espérance’s defender Chamseddine Dhaouadi during the 23rd minute. Soon after, Espérance’s midfielder Ghaylène Chaalali was also booked. As a result of both of these yellow cards, Dhaouadi and Chalaali will be missing the 2nd leg next week.

During the 44th minute, Fousseny Coulibaly, the Espérance midfielder, scored for the visitors at the Complexe Sportif Prince Moulay Abdellah in the Moroccan capital to hand Espérance a precious lead, which they gave up after Cheick Ibrahim Comara’s late equaliser.

Wydad Casablanca, CAF Champions League champions in 2017, thought they had equalised around a minute later through Ayoub El Amloud. However, a VAR review revealed that there had been a handball by Ismail El Haddad and the goal was ruled out by Gehad Greisha.

Just four minutes into the second half, Wydad Casablanca’s captain Brahim Nakach picked up a second caution and was sent off for a reckless high challenge.

In the 57th minute, the ref was faced with an even tougher call. VAR was consulted again to determine whether captain Khalil Chamm had blocked a goal-bound shot with his hand and it took almost two minutes for referee Gehad Greisha to watch replays before deciding it had not.

Wydad Casablanca kept strong and did not let their one-man disadvantage hold them back as they grabbed the equaliser when the 25-year-old defender Cheikh Comara delivered a header from a 79th-minute free kick.

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