African Champions League: Al Hilal stun Etoile and el Kaabi hits hat-trick for Wydad
A stunning victory for Al Hilal of Sudan and an Ayoub el Kaabi hat-trick for Wydad Casablanca of Morocco took the African Champions League headlines on Saturday in the third round of group matches.
Hilal won a group game in the elite African club competition for the first time since 2007 by shocking Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia 1-0 in Rades.
Athar el Tahir scored the match-winner just before the hour mark by rifling a low shot past Achraf Krir and into the corner of the net.
The triumph lifted Hilal to first place in Group B, ahead of Al Ahly of Egypt and Etoile on head-to-head records as the three contenders have six points each.
With home fixtures to come against Etoile and Ahly, a Hilal team coached by Egyptian Hamada Sedki can entertain realistic hopes of a top-two finish and a quarter-finals place.
Based in Omdurman, Hilal are trying for the 33rd time to win the top African club prize.
They came closest in 1987 and 1992, losing two-leg finals against Ahly and Wydad respectively 2-0 on aggregate.
In other matches on Saturday, Walid Soliman, the 35-year-old Al Ahly veteran, scored in each half to earn the record eight-time African champions a 2-0 win over pointless Platinum of Zimbabwe in Cairo.
Meanwhile, China-based Moroccan Ayoub El Kaabi ended a loan spell at Wydad with a treble as Wydad Casablanca finished 4-1 winners over Petro Luanda of Angola.
Against a backdrop of singing, flag-waving supporters in Casablanca, Wydad were stung midway through the second half when Brazilian Antonio 'Tony' Ribeiro equalised.
But El Kaabi netted a second time to put Wydad ahead again on 79 minutes and completed the scoring after Wilson Carmo conceded an own-goal.
Despite the convincing victory, two-time champions Wydad remained second in Group C, two points behind leaders Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa - USM Alger of Algeria have two points and Petro one.
Mamelodi Sundowns punished woeful defending to win 1-0 away to USM Alger in Blida with captain Hlompho Kekana marking his 300th appearance for the club with the 59th-minute winner.
Mustapha Kheiraoui struck a back pass to captain and goalkeeper Mohamed Zemmamouche far too weakly and 34-year-old Kekana darted forward to secure possession and score.
In Group A, Zesco United of Zambia suffered a setback when held 1-1 in Ndola by Zamalek of Egypt, who led thanks to Mostafa Mohamed for six minutes before Quadri Kola levelled.
TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo top the table with seven points, Zamalek have four, and Zesco and Primeiro Agosto of Angola two each.