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Algerian police rescue referee after Kabylie denied penalty

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Johannesburg (AFP)

Algerian police surrounded a Rwandan referee and escorted him to safety Friday after he was threatened by players from local club JS Kabylie at the end of a CAF Champions League match.

A vital Group D showdown between Kabylie and Moroccan visitors Raja Casablanca, which finished 0-0, ended controversially with the home side denied a blatant penalty.

TV replays showed the ball hitting the outstretched right arm of a Raja player inside the box, and referee Louis Hakizimana appeared to have a clear view of the incident.

But he ignored penalty appeals and waved play on three minutes into stoppage time in northern city Tizi Ouzou.

When the match ended, furious Algerian players approached the referee and some were restrained by teammates.

Track-suited police then rushed to the assistance of the match officials and escorted them from the pitch.

While twice African champions Kabylie were denied an obvious spot-kick, the Algerians had only themselves to blame for not securing three badly needed points.

They dominated possession but lacked the ability to open the defence of a Raja side that came to Algeria determined not to lose.

Three-time African champions Raja did not have a single goal attempt on target, committed 32 fouls and their passing accuracy was only 47 percent.

- Raja set for quarter-finals -

But securing a point means Raja, whose group campaign began poorly with a 2-0 home loss to trophy-holders Esperance of Tunisia, are set for a top-two finish and a quarter-finals place.

Esperance and Raja have seven points each, Kabylie four and V Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo one with the other matchday four fixture scheduled for Kinshasa Saturday.

Elsewhere, five-time champions Zamalek of Egypt scored early and late goals to defeat Zesco United of Zambia 2-0 in Cairo and move closer to the knockout stages from Group A.

Achraf Bencharki netted his fifth Champions League goal this season on four minutes by nodding a cross from fellow Moroccan Mohamed Ounajem past goalkeeper Jacob Banda.

Bencharki created the second goal after 89 minutes for rising star Mostafa Mohamed, who claimed his sixth goal of the African campaign with a tap-in.

Mohamed, who is being compared to Egyptian legend Hossam Hassan, is second in the scorers chart behind nine-goal Karim Aribi from Tunisian club Etoile Sahel.

TP Mazembe of DR Congo and Zamalek have seven points apiece and Zesco and Primeiro Agosto of Angola two each ahead of a clash between the top and bottom clubs in Lubumbashi Saturday.

Maximum points for Mazembe, whose 11 titles makes them the second most successful club in CAF competitions, will guarantee a quarter-finals place.

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