Algerian forward Raouf Benguit scored with seven minutes left as holders Esperance came from a goal down to beat Chadian champions Elect Sport 2-1 on the night in Rades and 3-2 on aggregate to progress to the group stages of the Total CAF Champions League.
The Tunisian giants who have won back to back CAF Champions League titles were staring at an early exit after the Chad Electricity Company sponsored outfit went ahead through Hassan Ibrahim who slotted home seven minutes before the break. The goal saw the scores go 2-1 on aggregate following the first leg in N’Djamena which ended 1-1.
However, Esperance came back a stronger side in the second half. Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane had a sweetly taken volley go inches over in the 56th minute as the home side sought an equalizer.
They were rewarded in the 62nd minute when Ibrahima Ouattara swung in a brilliant header unmarked inside the box after being picked out by a pin point Sameh Derbali cross from the right. Derbali had a go at goal himself four minutes later but his shot on the weaker left foot went straight to the keeper’s arms.
Esperance kept pushing and came close in the 76th minute off a swiftly executed counter, Benguit releasing Taha Khenissi who had just come on, but his shot was saved for a corner by the keeper.
They finally got the much needed nerve calming goal in the 83rd minute when Benguit tapped home off the second bite of the cherry after his initial shot off an Anice Badri assist had come off an Elect Sport defender.
Moine Chaabani (Head coach, Esperance de Tunis)
We conceded a goal from a counter attack and that put us in a difficult situation. We are mentally solid. It wasn’t easy going into the second half when you’re down 1-0. We were in a race against time and we managed it well. It was a good experience for our new players to get a feel of what it’s like in the CAF Champions League - the pressure and race against the clock.
Sameh Derbali (Defender, Esperance de Tunis)
We avoided a loss today. This is football, there are times when you have close calls. I am happy that we were in the right mindset in the second half and were able to dominate the game.