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Football | CAF Champions League

Thabo Nthethe © Backpagepix

Sundowns, USM advance, Zamalek out

USM Alger of Algeria and Al Ahly Tripoli of Libya reached the CAF Champions League quarterfinals on Sunday as 2016 runners-up Zamalek of Egypt bowed out with 10 men.

A 4-1 home victory over CAPS United of Zimbabwe in Algiers ensured USM of top place in Group B with 11 points from six matches.

Ahly Tripoli caused an upset by holding five-time African champions Zamalek 2-2 in Cairo and finishing runners-up with nine points.

Zamalek, whose only win came in the opening series of matches at home to CAPS, finished third on six points, ahead of the Harare club on head-to-head records.

Already-qualified Esperance of Tunisia sealed first place in Group C by trouncing Saint George of Ethiopia 4-0 in the Tunis suburb of Rades.

Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa, who had also secured a last-eight place with a game to spare, drew 1-1 with V Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Pretoria.

Unbeaten Esperance accumulated 12 points, defending champions Sundowns nine and Saint George and V Club five.

Etoile Sahel of Tunisia, Ferroviario Beira of Mozambique, Wydad Casablanca of Morocco and record eight-time champions Al Ahly of Egypt are the other quarterfinalists.

USM had CAPS under the cosh from the kick-off and it was only a matter of time before they breached a brittle defence.

Ziri Hammar, with a sizzling shot, and Okacha Hamzaoui gave the Algerians a 2-0 halftime advantage that was extended when Oussama Darfalou scored 12 minutes from time.

Abbas Aminu pulled one goal back for outclassed CAPS only for Darfalou to strike again with a tap-in two minutes from time.

Zamalek kicked off knowing a win would take them into the knockout phase of the elite African club competition unless CAPS triumphed in Algeria.

Basem Morsy gave the Egyptians an early lead, but the match turned pear-shaped for the Cairo "White Knights" in first half stoppage-time.

Mahmoud Hamdy was sent off for a penalty area foul and Anis Saltou converted the spot-kick to draw Ahly Tripoli level.

The Libyan outfit took the lead midway through the second half when Vianney Mabide from the Central African Republic scored.

Nigerian Marouf Yousef equalised for Zamalek with 15 minutes remaining, but a third goal that would have earned a quarterfinals place eluded them.

Goals from Khalil Chemmam and Bilel Mejri gave Esperance a two-goal halftime lead and Haythem Jouini and Ali Machani completed the rout.

A 35th-minute goal from captain Thabo Nthethe for Sundowns was cancelled by Cameroonian Yazid Atouba 17 minutes before time.

The quarterfinals will be played in September.


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