36 Lion product Junior Ajayi has bagged a second CAF Champions League title after his Al Ahly side defeated Kaizer Chiefs 3-0 in the final on Saturday evening.
The Red Devils meet South Africa’s Kaizer Chiefs in the final of Africa’s blue-riband club competition in Casablanca, targeting a second straight title after they memorably beat Cairo nemesis Zamalek 2-1 in last year’s final.
Before today, Ahly and Kaizer Chiefs met in 2002 when the Cairo giants secured a comprehensive 4-1 victory in the African Super Cup at home, a game known for a goal then goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary scored from his own half.
Ajayi was named as a substitute and climbed off the bench in the second half.
Super Eagles goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi was given the nod ahead of Bruce Bvuma between the sticks while Stuart Baxter opted for Samir Nurkovic to lead the line on his own from the start.
Chiefs enjoyed an encouraging start and managed to get beyond the Red Devils defence on a couple occasions, although they were only able to register one effort on target inside the opening 20 minutes.
Pitso Mosimane’s charges took control thereafter and while they enjoyed most of the possession, they were unable to full test Akpeyi despite finding themselves in some promising positions around the box.
The remaining stages of the first half would pan out exactly that way as the defending champions continued to dominate, while Chiefs got sloppy in possession the longer the game went on.
Chiefs did suffer a major blow on the stroke of halftime when Happy Mashiane was given his marching orders after the referee went to the Video Assistant Referee monitor before changing his initial yellow card to a red for the challenge on Akram Tawfik.
Mosimane responded by introducing El Hanafi at the start of the second half, while Baxter withdrew Nkosingiphile Ngcobo for the Khama Billiat, who had won the Champions League with Mamelodi Sundowns.
Al Ahly did not have wait too long for the opening goal as Mohamed Sherif got between Erick Mathoho and Daniel Cardoso before lobbing the on-rushing Akpeyi for his sixth goal of the tournament.
Mosimane’s charges began to stretch the 10 men of Chiefs and eventually got their reward on 63 minutes through Mohamed Magdy Afsha, who rattled the back of the net with a powerful strike from the edge of the box.
The third goal arrived 10 minutes later as the Egyptians embarked on the counter that ended with Amr Al Sulaya finding the top corner with a superb strike that left Akpeyi with no chance.
In the end, three goals were enough to get the job done on the night to hand Al Ahly their 10th Champions League title and Ajayi’s second.