Raja Casablanca won the Caf Confederation Cup with a 2-1 victory over JS Kabylie on Saturday evening.
First-half goals from Soufiane Rahimi and Ben Malango Ngita were all the Green Eagles needed to emerge as winners inside Cotonou’s Stade de l’Amitie.
Although they played the last 27 minutes with a man less following the dismissal of Omar Arjoune for a dangerous play, Lassaad Chabbi’s men held their nerves to win the competition for the second time in their history.
The Moroccans came into the game with low morale – having failed to win any of their last three games in all competitions. However, they reigned supreme thanks to a commanding showing in the first 45 minutes.
Although the game got off to a cagey start, it was Raja Casablanca who drew first blood through a brilliant individual effort by Rahimi in the fifth minute.
Profiting from a shambolic defending from the Lions of Djurdjura, the striker controlled a pass from Arjoune, rounded goalkeeper Oussama Benbot before slotting into an empty net.
South African referee Victor Gomes had cancelled the goal for an offside, albeit, VAR replays adjudged that the effort was legitimate.
That goal was a reality check for Denis Lavagne’s men, but they were unable to restore parity as their strikers were found wanting in the final third.
In the 14th minute, the Botola Pro giants doubled their advantage with a simple finish from Ben Malango. Oussama Soukhane made an overlapping run through opponents’ backline before sending a cross to the Congolese – who had the honour of firing into the bottom left of Benbot.
JS Kabylie’s first attempt to score came four minutes later. Nonetheless, Rida Bensayah’s fierce shot was punched over the crossbar by goalkeeper Anas Zniti.
A minute into the second half, the Algerians reduced the deficit as Zakaria Boulahia fired a rebound past Zniti after the ball fell to him in the box.
It appeared they would equalise as Chabbi’s men were reduced to ten after Arjoune was given the marching orders for viciously stamping Juba Oukaci’s face in the 63rd minute.
He was initially cautioned by Gomes, however, that decision was upturned for a red card after VAR checks.
Despite profiting from a numerical advantage, JS Kabylie were unable to launch a comeback as they paid for their wastefulness.
Thanks to their triumph, the Moroccans will play either Al Ahly or Kaizer Chiefs in the Caf Super Cup.