Esperance seal first-leg victory

Esperance have the upper hand in the CAF Champions League semi-finals after edging ten-man TP Mazembe 1-0 in the first-leg on Saturday evening.

The hosts had the majority of possession in the early stages, threatening to go ahead but Mazembe were kept in the game by the bravery of their shot-stopper Sylvain Gbohouo who was making timely interceptions inside the box.

Mihayo Kazembe’s charges were staying compact at the back after 20 minutes looking to catch Esperance on counter-attacks but they were unable to turn the hosts’ defence.

The Tunisian side were forced to make a change 12 minutes before the break as Hamdou Elhouni went down with injury and he was replaced by Anice Badri.

Moïn Chaabani’s men were getting frustrated by the defence of the visitors in the closing stages of the second stanza as they just could not find the openings and the sides went to the break without goals.

Esperance came fired up in the early stages of the second stanza and Youcef Belaili finally found the breakthrough for the Tunisian giants six minutes inside the second stanza with a curling cross-cum shot from the edge of the box that took a nasty bounce and sailed over Gbohouo at the far post and to the corner of the net, 1-0.

Kazembe needed the cutting edge and fresh legs upfront in the 61st minute as he brought on out-and-out striker Ben Malango in place of veteran midfield-cum-striker Tresor Mputu.

Mazembe were dealt a blow with 18 minutes remaining as Kabaso Chongo got his second yellow card for violent conduct and was sent off.

The hosts were not yet making their one-man advantage count with ten minutes remaining as the visitors were the ones who were most threatening on counter-attacks but lacked the finishing touches.

However, Haythem Jouini nearly got the second goal for Esperance with five minutes remaining after going clear straight in the centre inside the box but his low shot was saved by Gbohouo.

Mazembe were desperate for the away goal in the closing stages and were fancying their chances but they came short as they lost 1-0 in the end.

comments