Esperance de Tunis defeated TP Mazembe 1-0 in the first leg of the CAF Champions League semifinal at the Olympic Stadium in Rades on Saturday evening.
The Blood and Gold will take the narrow advantage to the Ravens' home ground, Stade TP Mazembe in Lubumbashi, next Saturday 4 May. The aggregate winners will advance into the final.
The first chance of the game went the way of the hosts, with Taha Khenissi denied by a low save from Mazembe’s Ivorian goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo just before the quarter hour mark.
Mazembe weathered the early pressure from Esperance, before having a good chance of their own around the half hour mark, but Meschak Elia wasn’t able to make the most of the opportunity.
The Tunisian side soon suffered an injury blow when Hamdou Elhouni, who suffered a tough challenge from Kouame Koffi, had to be replaced by Anice Badri on 32 minutes.
The first half ended goalless, with the Ravens no doubt pleased at having stymied the Blood and Gold, who enjoyed the comfortable majority of possession.
However, Esperance needed just six minutes of the second half to break the deadlock, with Youcef Belaili’s cross travelling straight into the net, though it may have taken a slight touch off striker Khenissi on the way in.
Mazembe’s hopes of making a comeback in the game were dashed with just under 20 minutes to play when defender Kabaso Chongo picked up a second yellow card and was sent for an early shower.
The DR Congo side needed Gbohouo to make a few more outstanding saves in what remained of the game, and Esperance could well come to regret not fully capitalising on their scoring chances.
Esperance de Tunis (0) 1 (Belaili 51’)
TP Mazembe 0
Esperance: Ben Cherifia, Meskini, Dhaouadi, Chemmam (Bguir 75’), Ben Mohamed, Kom, Coulibaly, Elhouni (Badri 32’), Chaalali, Belaili, Khenissi (Jouini 70’)
Mazembe: Gbohouo, Mpeko, Zatu, Chongo, Zola, Miche, Sinkala, Koffi, Muleka, Mputu (Malango 61’), Elia