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CAF Confederation Cup

CAF Confederation Cup Final: Morocco’s Raja Take 3-goal Lead in First-leg

Moroccan giants Raja Casablanca secured a 3-0 advantage over AS Vita of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the first leg of the CAF Confederation Cup final.

Moroccan giants Raja Casablanca secured a 3-0 advantage over AS Vita of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the first leg of the CAF Confederation Cup final as they turned in a dominant home performance at Stade Mohamed V on Sunday.

Soufiane Rahimi netted twice, while the leading Confederation Cup scorer, Mahmoud Benhalib, scored from a penalty to lift his season total to 12 goals.

Raja had the first chance created by Badr Benoun who strode forward out of the midfield before sending a beautiful cross that met Lema Mabidi, but his scintillating shot went over the bar in the 14th minute.

The Black Dolphins were being over-run by on-form Moroccans, who made them sweat for every challenge in all departments.

Raja appeared more threatening, moving around the Vita defense with ease through their short passing movements, that led Zakaria Hadraf to smash a half-shot on target in the 26th  minute, but Nelson Lukong was well alert to parry it out of the goal.

At the other end, Jean-Marc Makusu shot straight at Anas Zniti for their very first attempt on target following a pass from Nelson Mungaga.

Moments later, Omar Bouyateb attempted a half-volley from a low-cut cross by Abdellah Hafidi, but it failed to take flight.

Vita ended a bit strong towards halftime but were unable to get behind the defence despite a late shot from Muzungu Lukobe sailing wide off a counterattack.

The second half started slowly, as no side posed a threat to each other in their attacking forays earlier on.

Vita were made to pay for their sloppy passing, as Raja Casablanca pulled off a quick surprise attack with Soufiane Rahimi pouncing on a back-heel from Mahmoud Benhalib to poke the ball home.

The Black Dolphins nearly responded from a corner but the brilliance of Mukoko first denied Zniti from point-blank range and then Luamba Ngoma seconds later with a thump off target.

Raja fans broke into song and dance forcing play to be delayed to allow smoke from a flare to clear, and when they resumed, Raja added to the score.

Rahimi’s second came just after the hour mark from a strong shot metres outside the area giving the hosts a 2-0 lead.

Things got worse for the visitors when Yannick Bangala Litombo gave away a penalty two minutes later and was sent off for two yellow cards.

Mahmoud Benhalib put the spot-kick away to make it 3-0 to Raja and become the top-scorer in the competition this season with 12 goals.

Despite the home side’s numerical advantage, they were unable to add to their tally as the Congolese giants fought tooth and nail looking for a way back into the tie.

Shots from Luamaba Ngoma and Kupa Makwewe did little to get them a consolation, with the efforts firing wayward.

However, the Black Dolphins will hope that all is not lost as they head into the second leg, to be held in Kinshasa on December 2. But it will take a monumental effort if Florent Ibenge’s men are to rescue their hopes and dreams.

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