Miloud Rebiai glanced in a header with eight minutes left as home side MC Alger came from a goal down to play to a 1-1 draw against two-time African champions Wydad Club Athletic in the first leg of the Total CAF Champions League quarter final played in Algiers on Friday.
Wydad had gone ahead through skipper Yahya Jabrane’s penalty, but the home side dug deep into their energy reserves to grab a draw and leave all to play for in the return leg in Casablanca.
The visitors from Morocco had the most chances in the game and hit the woodwork twice in the game. They threatened from the onset with Ayoub El Kaabi heading wide after 18 minutes off a well worked move.
In the 35th minute, Wydad thought they had taken the lead when Jabrne headed home off a rebound but he was flagged offside. The skipper had reacted quickest after El Kaabi’s header off a cross from the left came off the upright.
Four minutes to the break, Wydad were denied by the crossbar once again, this time Aymane El Hassouni’s rasping shot from distance going straight into the woodwork.
In the second half, the visitors were determined to make their chances count and they were handed an opportunity in the 65th minute when substitute Mohamed Ounanjem was brought down inside the box by Mouaud Hadded. Skipper Jabrane stepped up and calmly converted.
The home side looked to get their feet back into the match and woke from their slumber. They had a chance in the 75th minute when Chems Harrag’s dipping shot was turned behind for a corner by the keeper.
Their resilience bore fruit eight minutes to time when defender Rebiai flicked home a header after rising highest at the edge of the six yard box to meet up a Harrag delivery off a freekick.
The home side put in their all in the final minutes of the game to try and get a win at home, but Wydad guarded their rear with astute keenness.
They were however almost caught out in the second minute of added time when substitute Sofiane Abdellaoui went down for a diving header of a Harrag cross, but he headed inches wide from six yards out.
Wydad host the return leg next weekend in Casablanca.