USM Alger 3-0 ES Setif
Holders ES Setif always knew they had a tough task ahead of them if they wanted to extend their stay in this years' competition beyond the group stage. Going into their fifth match they had to avoid defeat to in-form local rivals USM Alger. The home side instead made history by becoming the first club to win their first five matches in the group phase. The Red and Blacks triumphed after scoring twice in the first half through Youcef Belaili and Kaddour Beldjilali, before new signing Amine Aoudia, who came on as a second-half substitute, added a third after the break. "We played well. Beating the defending champion by the score of 3-0 is not easy, but it is the result of work which has been going on for over two months,” said USM coach Miloud Hamdi. His Setif counterpart Kheireddine Madoui said there had been some unforgivable mistakes by his players. "The defeat is very difficult to digest."
In the other Group B match, Al Merreikh, who knew before their match at Algerian second division team El Eulma that they would be appearing in their first-ever Champions League semi-finals, came back from a 2-0 half-time deficit to record a 3-2 victory. Younes Kadri and Abdelmalek Abbes gave the home side a two-goal cushion at the break, but Bakri Al-Madina scored twice to add to the goal that Alaeldin Yousif Hado scored midway through the second half. The win takes the Sudanese to 10 points – five behind USM. Setif are on four points, while Eulma have failed to pick up a point so far from their five matches.
In Group A Patrice Carteron's words before the weekend proved prophetic. The Frenchman, who took his TP Mazembe team to Sudan for their match against Al Hilal, said that it could well be that three clubs sit on eight points after their fifth match. The Congo DR club, who are one of the favourites for the title this year, were beaten 1-0 in Omdurman through a goal scored by Athar Eltahir. The result leaves both clubs on eight points, where they are joined by Moroccan entrants Moghreb Tetouan, who proved too strong for Smouha from Egypt, winning 2-1. Smouha have been eliminated from the competition on three points.
Player of the week
Having seen their rivals Al Merreikh qualify for the semi-finals of this year's Champions League competition, Al Hilal were eager to also stay in the hunt for a place in the round of the final four. To do so, they needed to avoid defeat at home against TP Mazembe. They did so in impressive fashion through a goal scored midway through the first half by midfielder Athar Eltahir, who has already established himself in the side although he is only 18-year-old.
5 – The number of games that USM Alger have won in a row in the group phase of the competition. The run has seen the Algerian champions break the Champions League record, as never before has a club won their first five group matches. The only other club to win five games was Esperance, who achieved the feat twice (1999 and 2013), but never won five in succession.
What they said
"My team was very bad during the first half and I demanded the players score three goals after the break. They managed that, showing physical power to come back,” Al Merreikh coach Diego Garzitto after his team's dramatic comeback.
Have your say
Can Sudan become the fifth country to provide two semi-finalists in the competition? Al Merreikh have already made sure of their place and could well be joined by Al Hilal. Previously Congo DR (2014), Nigeria (2009), Egypt (2005) and Tunisia (2004) have managed to get two clubs into the round of the last four of the CAF Champions League.