A first half strike from Ivorian Didier Lebri powered El Merreikh to victory over USM Alger in the ultimate Group B clash on Friday in Omdurman.
Lebri finished off a sublime assist from in-form Bakri Al Medina with a shot past the Algerians goalie Ismail Mansouri on 13 minutes to hand USM Alger their first defeat at the pool stage.
There was nothing to play for in the encounter held at the Al Merreikh Stadium in Omdurman, with both sides already guaranteed of spots at the semis; however the performance was far off that situation, with Merreikh ensuring the Algerians tasted defeat for the first time in as many matches.
The result saw an end to the five-match winning streak of USM Alger, who finished top of Group B with 15 points, two more than Merreikh. The Algerians will face the runner-up of Group A at the semis whilst the Sudanese squares the group winners for a place at the final.
The blistering start of Merreikh paid off after 13 minutes and Al Medina, who has been the star of ‘Al-Zaeem’ this term laid a perfect pass to Lebri, who slotted past on rushing Mansouri, for the goal that separated the two sides.
The visitors’ best moment for the equalizer came five minutes before the break but Merreikh goalie Salim Magoola stretched his fullest to parry a low-shot from Malagasy striker Charles Andriamahitsinoro.
Moments after the break, Rcahid Nadji was unlucky to see his shot from an Andriamahitsinoro assist miss target narrowly.
On the other side, Ghana-born Francis Coffie forced Mansouri to make a good save from a free-kick around the penalty area on 58 minutes.
The homers defence thwarted several efforts by the USMA attackers to draw level, to climax their group stage on a winning note.
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*All times are in local time
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