Draw not enough for eliminated Ahly

A 1-1 draw at home to Esperance knocked record six-time winners Al Ahly from Egypt out of the CAF Champions League.

Yaya Banana headed the Tunisian visitors into the lead in a Group B clash of north African giants at Cairo Stadium.

Veteran midfielder Mohamed Aboutrika levelled in the second half, but a point was not enough for Ahly, as they were pipped by Moroccans Wydad Casablanca on the head-to-head rule for second place and a semi-finals spot.

Seldom have losers celebrated so much as Wydad, who were beaten 3-1 by Mouloudia Alger in Algeria, with Ahmed Ajeddou converting a late penalty for the visitors after Reda Babouche scored twice and Herve Oussale once for the local team.

Esperance, runners-up to TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo last year, topped the table with ten points from six games, followed by Wydad and Ahly with seven each and Mouloudia with five.

The head-to-head battle between Wydad and Ahly came down to away goals after they drew twice, with the Moroccans scoring three in Cairo and Ahly just one in Casablanca.

Esperance will face Cotonsport Garoua of Cameroon or Al Hilal of Sudan in the semi-finals, which start at the the end of September, while Wydad will confront Group A winners Enyimba of Nigeria.

Home hopes dashed
Ahly had to win in front a 50,000 crowd to keep alive their hopes of making the final four in a competition offering a place at the year-end FIFA Club World Cup in Japan.

But the Cairo 'Red Devils' were rocked after 17 minutes when giant Cameroonian centre-back Banana outjumped Mohamed Naguib to head a Khaled Korbi free-kick past goalkeeper Ahmed Adel.

Ahly equalised ten minutes into the second half when Aboutrika headed home a corner from substitute Walid Soliman, and he fired wide two minutes later with only goalkeeper Moez Ben Cherifia to beat.

The Egyptians came close to snatching victory in stoppage time as Mohamed Fadl had a header cleared off the line only for fellow substitute striker Dominique da Silva to blaze the rebound wide.