African Champions League: Esperance beat Mazembe 1-0 in semi-final first leg





The 2018 African champions Esperance celebrate their triumph after victory over Al Ahly in last year’s final.

A Youcef Belaili goal gave holders Esperance of Tunisia a 1-0 win over TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday in their African Champions League semi-final first leg.

An intended cross from the Algerian winger evaded Ivorian goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo on 51 minutes of a tight match on the outskirts of Tunis.

It was the sixth consecutive win this season by Esperance in the elite African club competition while Mazembe surrendered a six-match unbeaten run.

Defences dominated the clash of clubs who have won the Champions League eight times between them with Esperance having just four goal attempts on target and Mazembe none.

Mazembe will be relatively satisfied with the result given they played the last 18 minutes with 10-men after Zambian centre-back Kabaso Chongo was sent off following a second booking.

Mazembe could have had a player sent off during the first half with Ivorian Christian Kouame lucky to only be shown a yellow card for a foul on Libyan midfielder Hamdou Elhouni.

Elhouni later limped off and was replaced by striker Anice Badri, the 2018 Champions League leading scorer who made little impact.

Another substitute attacker, Haythem Jouini, squandered a late chance to double the Esperance advantage when his shot from inside the box was smothered by Gbohouo.

The result left both semi-finals delicately balanced after Wydad Casablanca edged Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa 2-1 in Morocco on Friday.

Both second legs are next Saturday with Mazembe facing Esperance in Lubumbashi and Sundowns playing Wydad near Pretoria.



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