USM Alger of Algeria came from behind to win 2-1 at Al Hilal of Sudan on Sunday and stake a strong claim for a CAF Champions League final place.

The clubs meet again next Saturday in the second leg of the semifinal and a home draw will suffice to take the team from the Algerian capital into the decider for the first time.

Hilal made the perfect with star Mudather 'Careca' Eltaib scoring after just two minutes before a capacity 35 000 crowd at the Al Hilal Stadium in Omdurman.

But USM shrugged off stamina-sapping 35 degree Celsius night-time heat to level 15 minutes later through recent signing Mohamed Amine Aoudia.

Karim Baiteche scored the 67th-minute match-winner with his first goal of the Champions League campaign.

Just before the decisive goal, Hilal squandered a great chance to regain the lead when Brazilian Andrezinho had a penalty saved.

Hilal were runners-up twice when the competition was called the African Champions Cup, while the best previous showing by USM was reaching the 2003 semifinals.

Algerian outfit Entente Setif won the Champions League last season, edging V Club from the Democratic Republic of Congo on away goals after both legs of the final were drawn.

Another Sudanese side, Al Merrikh, fared better in the first semifinal 24 hours earlier in another Omdurman stadium clash by winning 2-1 against TP Mazembe from DR Congo.

Ghanaian Francis Coffie gave first-time semifinalists Merrikh the lead against four-time champions Mazembe as half-time approached.

Tanzanian Thomas Ulimwengu equalised 13 minutes from time only for Sudanese superstar Bakry 'Al Medina' Babiker to put Merrikh ahead again soon after.

The return match is scheduled for next Sunday in southern Congolese mining city Lubumbashi.

A $1.5 million prize and a place in the 2015 Fifa Club World Cup in Japan go to the winners of the marquee African club football competition.

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