African Champions League: Al Ahly begin group phase with victory
Record eight-time African Champions League winners Al Ahly of Egypt defeated DR Congo's AS Vita Club 2-0 on Saturday in their opening fixture of this season's group phase.
Ahly benefitted from some controversial decisions starting in the 36th minute when a straight red card was shown to Vita Club defender Dharles Kalonji.
Vita Club held out with 10 men until the 65th minute when Nasser Maher side-footed a cutback into the net from close range to give Ahly a 1-0 lead.
The second goal came in the 79th minute after Karim Walid was adjudged to have been fouled by veteran Cameroonian goalkeeper Nelson Lukong in the box.
Although Lukong correctly guessed the direction of the spot-kick from Tunisian Ali Maaloul, it had too much power and height and flew into the corner of the net.
A furious Lukong pointed a finger and shouted at the match officials after the final whistle at the Borg el Arab Stadium in Alexandria.
Also in Group D, Tanzanian side Simba SC trounced Algerian visitors JS Saoura 3-0 in Dar es Salaam to take an early lead, ahead of Ahly, in the group.
Including qualifiers, Simba have scored 15 goals in five matches, and they began their second appearance in the group stage with a bang.
Ugandan Emmanuel Okwi put them ahead on the stroke of half-time and a second-half brace from Rwandan Meddie Kagere completed the rout.
In Saturday's other matches, DR Congo's TP Mazembe beat Egypt's Ismaily 2-0 and Zimbabwe's Platinum Stars and South Africa's Orlando Pirates ended goalless.
Mazembe's victory over Ismaily in Lubumbashi came despite playing the second half with ten men following the dismissal of Ivory Coast keeper Sylvain Gbohouo.
The Ivorian was dismissed just before the break for a foul on Benson Chilongo but replacement goalkeeper Aime Bakula saved the resulting penalty to keep the score at 0-0.
The hosts took the lead in the 82nd minute when substitute Chico Ushindi headed home a cross from Tresor Mputu Mabi.
Four minutes later Mputu Mabi set up a second goal with Kevin Mundeko finding the finish to seal the win.
Five-time winners Mazembe move to the top of Group C on goal difference ahead of Algeria's CS Constantine, who won away at Tunisia's Club Africain on Friday.
All four sides in Group B are locked on a point each after the opening games.
On Saturday Platinum Stars held visiting Orlando Pirates to a 0-0 draw while on Friday Tunisia's defending champions Esperance grabbed a late goal to make it 1-1 in Guinea against Horoya.
Group A's opening matches were completed on Friday as Wydad Casablanca beat Ivory Coast's ASEC Mimosas 5-2 in Morocco and Nigeria's Lobi Stars defeated South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns 2-1 in Enugu.
The next round of games are set for the 18 and 19 January with the top two in each group qualifying for the quarter-finals.