Today in history: Al Ahly African champions

December 21, 2019
On this day, 21 December 2001 (Exactly 18 years ago today), a hat-trick from Khaled Bebo gave Al Ahly of Egypt the US$1m African Champions League trophy over South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns in Cairo.
Bebo, returning from suspension, scored twice in the first-half and completed the rout in the 89th minute to give the Egyptians a 4-1 win on aggregate and their third title as African champions.
Bebo was preferred to the club’s leading goalscorer Alaa Ibrahim in the starting line-up as the hosts made three changes from the side which drew 1-1 away in the opening leg in Pretoria a fortnight earlier.
All three of his goals came against the run of play and through fast breaks masterminded by the Egyptian striker.
Penalty goal
In the packed Cairo National Stadium with 120,000 fans, Bebo sent the crowd wild after converting a penalty in the 36th minute.
Bebo had been brought down by Fabian McCarthy’s late challenge inside the box.
Just before the interval, Bebo scored the second on the volley after Mohamed Farouk had done all the work on the right flank.
With a minute left to play after the South Africans had hit the post three times in the second-half, Bebo sealed victory for the Egyptians breaking into space to finish easily.
Sundowns had the better chances to come from behind to win the match, but goalkeeper Esam El Hadary was difficult to beat.
El Hadary denied Sundown’s attacker Simba Marumo from close range late in the game.
Earlier on, only 15 seconds into the second-half Carlo Scott had fired from the edge of the box, but Hadary had narrowed the angle.
Great achievement
Marumo also headed against the post and Daniel Mudau showed his reflex, turning and shooting in the box but the ball deflected to a corner.
It was a great achievement by the youthful Ahly side who were not given much of a chance to play in the final.
However, the Champions League itself was difficult to predict because all the eight teams who played in the group stage could have come this far.
But certainly it is a title the Egyptian side deserve after they were named African club of the century by the Confederation of African Football.
Earlier in the year the Cairo giants defeated Real Madrid of Spain who were also honoured as club of the century by Fifa.
On this day 21 December 2011(Exactly 8 years ago today)  Marc Albrighton,  the Leicester City midfielder,  scored the 20,000th goal of the English Premier League (EPL)  when he got the equaliser for Aston Villa in a 2-1 defeat at home to Arsenal, winning a £20,000 cheque from league sponsors Barclays, donated to his chosen charity, Acorns Children’s Hospice.
On this day 21 December 1999(Exactly 20 years ago today)  Former FC Barcelona and Brazilian midfielder Rivaldo was named as winner of the Ballon d’Or for best football player in Europe ahead of Manchester United midfielder David Beckham and Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko
On this day 21 December 2008 (Exactly 11 years ago today) Ten-man Manchester United have won the FIFA Club World Cup, thanks to Wayne Rooney’s 73rd minute goal over Liga de Quito in Yokohama.
However that fails to tell the story of an entertaining final, which saw Nemanja Vidic dismissed four minutes after the interval for an elbow on Claudio Bieler.
United were given a wake-up call as early as the fourth minute. Patrice Evra fouled Bieler on the edge of the penalty area and the resulting free-kick from Damian Manso almost caught United napping, with Jairo Campos unable to divert the ball past Edwin van der Sar from close range.
Save for a few long-range efforts from Bieler and Luis Bolanos, which whizzed wide of the United No1’s right hand post, the first half was dominated by the Red Devils who were unlucky not to be ahead at the interval.
Their first chance came after ten minutes when Nemanja Vidic’s long ball was well controlled by Rooney, who unleashed a ferocious volley which Jose Cevallos was forced to push away at full stretch. The England international also tested the keeper five minutes later when his low strike was turned behind for a corner.
Cevallos was in fine form and pulled off an outstanding save to deny Carlos Tevez whose header from Cristiano Ronaldo’s cross seemed to be destined for the net. An audacious lob from Rooney hit the roof of the net, rather than the target and Park Ji-Sung should have at least tested the keeper when he was presented with an opportunity from close range.
Rooney, Carrick and Tevez all had chances from distance which went wide – and on the stroke of half-time, United went close again when Cristiano Ronaldo’s cross from the right was hit wide.
The dynamics of the game change completely at the beginning of the second half when Vidic was sent off. The Serbian fouled Bieler just inside the United half and then elbowed him in the face. Referee Ravshan Irmatov had a full view of the incident and had no hesitation in brandishing the red card.
Tevez was sacrificed for Jonny Evans as Sir Alex Ferguson reshuffled, but despite the numerical disadvantage, United still played positively. Rooney forced Cevallos into two comfortable saves, but if the end product was lacking – the intent was admirable.
Liga de Quito’s first shot on goal came in the 65th minute when a 25-yard thunderbolt from Manso was palmed away by van der Sar. It was a world-class save from the Dutchman, who at 38-years-old was still rated as one of the finest goalkeepers in the world.
Rooney finally broke the deadlock in the 73rd minute with a fine goal. Michael Carrick slipped the ball to Cristiano Ronaldo who spotted and found the striker lurking to his left. He made no mistake, firing a low shot across the body of Cevallos and inside the far post.
As expected, the goal provoked a deluge of pressure from Liga de Quito – and once again van der Sar pulled off a truly outstanding save to deny Manso. The Argentinian must have thought he had equalised when his right-footed screamer was heading on target, but once again, he sprung at full stretch to tip the ball over.
That proved to be the last action of an entertaining match in a year which had seen Manchester United crowned champions of England, champions of Europe and champions of the world.
On this day 21 December 2013(Exactly 6 years ago today) FC Bayern Munchen became the first German club to win the FIFA Club World Cup after defeating Raja Casablanca 2-0 in the final at Marrakech Stadium, wrapping up a memorable year for the European champions.
In the first meeting between the sides, Bayern asserted themselves from the start.
In the 4th minute Bayern and Germany international Toni Kroos tested Raja goalkeeper Khalid Askri with a distance shot. Askri was able to make a comfortable save.
One minute later Raja answered Bayern’s early surge when the in-form Moussine Iajour shot wide inside the Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer’s penalty box.
In the 7th minute Bayern defender Jerome Boateng headed a corner kick from Xherdan Shaqiri into the path of fellow defender Dante who shot past Askri from about six yards to give the European champions the 1-0 lead.
Bayern continued to control the flow of the match and in the 22nd minute went two goals ahead after Alaba cut inside from the left wing to find Spain international Thiago at the top of the 18-yard box who struck a 14-yard shot into Askri’s far corner.
STORIES: GEORGE MAHAMAH

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