Al Hilal storm Fifa Club World Cup semis
What you need to know:
- The clash, which saw the hosts reduced to 10 men at some point, had ended 1-1 after full and extra time
- Ayoub El Moud scored the opener for the home team just after the break before Mohammed Kano equalised at the death to silence the wild crowd
- With an even playing surface providing the platform for the theatre, Wydad players followed the same script as its national team, with short swift passes, disciplined defensive shifts and quick counter attacks against an assured opponent
In Rabat, Morocco
Star studded Saudi Arabia club Al Hilal set up a juicy semi-final date with Brazil's Flamengo after shocking hosts Wydad Casablanca 5-3 on post match penalties in a dramatic 2023 Fifa Club World Cup contest here in Rabat on Saturday night.
The clash, which saw the hosts reduced to 10 men at some point, had ended 1-1 after full and extra time.
Ayoub El Moud scored the opener for the home team just after the break before Mohammed Kano equalised at the death to silence the wild crowd.
MLS side Seattle Sounders were set to meet Egyptian giants Al Ahly in the other quarter-final.
The winner of this contest will progress to play European champions Real Madrid in the semis of this seven-team tournament which brings together clubs that won their respective continental titles.
Back to the game, one could smell the tension amid the Arab world rivalry as Wydad - in all white - lined up against the Asian champions, donning all blue, at the Prince Mulley Abdulla Stadium.
To my right on the terraces just below the media tribune, a Wydad fan took in a long puff from his cigar and released a simultaneous pattern of greyish smoke from his nostrils just after kick off.
Behind him, another supporter gulped in three continuous sips from his water bottle.
Far right, thousands of Wydad fans, donning all red, who'd filled a section of this 52,000-seater stadium shouted and chanted Arabic slogans while literally sounding war drums.
Two months ago, Morocco had beaten football giants Belgium, Spain and Portugal to finish fourth at the 2022 Fifa World Club.
Could a Moroccan team equal that feat or even go one, or two, better at another international tournament?
To achieve that, Wydad coach Mehdi Nefti, would have to, in these freezing conditions amid the Rabat sunshine, mastermind victory against a star-studded Hilal side, which had Nigerian Odion Ighalo, imposing Malian international Moussa Marega and Brazilian Delgado in attack.
With an even playing surface providing the platform for the theatre, Wydad players followed the same script as its national team, with short swift passes, disciplined defensive shifts and quick counter attacks against an assured opponent.
The tactic paid off moments after the restart when Ayoub Al Elmoud rose highest to head home a Jalal Daoudi cross past a stranded Muaiof.
Al Hilal equalised at the death, via Mohammed Kano's penalty and moments later, Wydad captain Yahya Jabrane was sent off for an altercation with the referee.
The send off failed to lower the morale of the hosts, but they failed when it mattered most, at the shootout.