09.10.2022 23:53 h

Rivers United, Sundowns steal CAF Champions League show

Rivers United of Nigeria and Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa stole the show on Sunday in the CAF Champions League last 32 first legs.

Ghana-born Paul Acquah scored the 53rd-minute winner as Rivers came from behind to defeat title-holders Wydad Casablanca of Morocco 2-1 in southeastern city Port Harcourt.

Bouly Sambou gave three-time African champions Wydad a first-half lead that lasted only two minutes before Malachi Ohawume equalised.

After an impressive 2-0 victory over record 10-time winners Al Ahly of Egypt in the last Champions League final, Wydad have suffered setbacks on and off the field.

Coach Walid Regragui resigned and later replaced Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic as coach of World Cup-bound Morocco.

He was succeeded by Houcine Ammouta, who saw his team crash 2-0 to underdogs Renaissance Berkane in an all-Moroccan CAF Super Cup match.

Now, Wydad must win at home against Rivers next Sunday to avoid a shock elimination from the premier African club competition, and relegation to the second-tier CAF Confederation Cup.

A joyful day for Nigeria in the Champions League was completed when Plateau United also came from behind to beat four-time winners Esperance of Tunisia 2-1 in Abuja.

All the goals came in the first half with Mustapha Ibrahim scoring the match winner after Ifeanyi Emmanuel had cancelled the lead Anice Badri gave the visitors.

Elsewhere, Sundowns equalled the record margin for an away win in the Champions League by trouncing La Passe of the Seychelles 7-0 in Pretoria.

Zamalek of Egypt set the benchmark in 2020 when they won 7-0 in an away fixture against Dekedaha of Somalia.

The Cairo club benefitted from the Somalis conceding home advantage and agreeing to play both matches in the Egyptian capital.

La Passe, whose ground does not meet international standards, also surrendered home advantage to Sundowns, and paid the price as they fell five goals behind by half-time.

A braver, more organised second-half showing from the Indian Ocean outfit restricted former African champions Sundowns to two more goals.

Six players shared in the goal fest with Uruguayan Gaston Sirino scoring twice as Sundowns once again overwhelmed opponents from the Seychelles.

When Sundowns crushed Cote d'Or 11-1 in the second leg of a 2020 qualifier they equalled the record for a Champions League home win and created one with a 16-1 overall victory.