(Reuters) – Ten-man Raja Casablanca scored two early goals but had to hang on grimly to win the African Confederation Cup for the second time in four years with a 2-1 victory over JS Kabylie of Algeria in Saturday’s final.
Soufiane Rahimi put Raja ahead after five minutes at the end of a sweeping move and then Congolese Ben Malango was offered time and space to swivel inside the penalty area and strike home from close range for a second goal after 14 minutes.
But JS Kabylie pulled one back with the first attack of the second half of the final, which was played in Benin, as Mohamed Zakaria Boulahia finished smartly at the end of a protracted goalmouth scramble.
The Algerians received a boost when Raja had Omar Arjoune sent off after connecting with an opponent’s face with a high boot just past the hour mark.
Referee Victor Gomes of South Africa at first handed him a yellow card but after being told to review the decision on the pitchside VAR screen, it was changed to a red.
Raja, who previously won African club football’s secondary competition in 2018, held out to spark boisterous celebrations at the final whistle.
(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Pretoria; Editing by Toby Davis)