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Gor Mahia smacked by USM Alger in Blida

Gor Mahia players line up before a past Kenyan Premier League match. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 16 – Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia have been left with a mountain to climb after suffering a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Algerian side USM Alger on Sunday night in the first leg of the CAF Champions League first round in Blida.

Zakaria Benchaa and Mohammed Meftaah scored a brace each as the Algerian champions put themselves firmly in control ahead of the second leg to be played in Nairobi in two weeks time. Skipper Kenneth Muguna scored Gor’s consolation from the spot.

Gor will need a 3-0 win in Nairobi or a victory of more than four goals to proceed to the group stages for the first time in their history.

By half time, Gor Mahia’s goose was already cooked as they were already 3-0 down, having conceded two goals in two minutes. Meftaaah had scored his second off a penalty at the stroke of half time before Benchaa made it 3-0 in the first minute of added time.

Gor were made to chase for most of the game, with the home side who beat them 2-1 in the group stages of the Confederations Cup last season enjoying the lion’s share of possession.

As early as the third minute, Gor keeper David Mapigano had been forced to work, coming out to narrow the angle and deny Benchaa one on one.

-Meftaah opener 

The Algerian outfit continued to pile the pressure on Gor and it bore fruit in the 16th minute when Meftaah broke the deadlock with a wicked volley unmarked from the right.

Mouaid Ellafi did all the work on the left to dance away from Dickson Ambundo before floating a cross that evaded both Charles Momanyi and Joash Onyango to land gracefully into Meftaah’s waiting feet.

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They came close again in the 21st minute when Moustapha Kheiraoui forced a great save off Mapigano after flicking a header off an Abdelkarim Zouari freekick.

Benchaa had another chance four minutes later, but his volley from another of Ellafi’s crosses went over.

Gor had their first chance at goal one minute later, but Nicholas Kipkurui’s header off a Boniface Omondi cross was an easy save for USM Alger goalkeeper Smail Mansouri. Gor seemed to have picked some confidence and began to hold some possession.

-Two goals in two minutes 

However, all that was cut out within two crazy minutes late in the half. Meftaah completed his brace from the penalty spit in the 45th minute after Gor keeper Mapigano fouled Benchaa in the box.

Benchaa then made amends for his earlier miss from a sitter with a superb goal in the first minute of added time, finding space in the middle of crowded legs to curl in a beauty that bounced off both posts before going into the net past a dazed Mapigano.

At the start of the second half, Gor made changes, Kipkurui coming off for Samwel Onyango.

The brief spell of dominance after the breather saw Gor reduce the gap to 3-1 after Muguna converted from the spot, following Tahar Benkhalifa’a handball off a Charles Momanyu effort from a corner.

The small hope of a comeback was thwarted with 14 minutes left when Benchaa scored his second after reacting quickest when Mapigano pushed Zakaria Haddouche’s freekick against the crossbar. Just before that, Gor dodged a bullet when Abderrahim Hamra’s header off a corner it the bar.

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