CAF Champions League 2020

Esperance and Raja through after four-goal thriller

Esperance and Raja through after four-goal thriller (2 - 2). Photo | CAF Online
Esperance and Raja through after four-goal thriller (2 - 2). Photo | CAF Online


Holders Esperance of Tunisia and visitors Raja Club Athletic guaranteed their quarterfinals spots after sharing spoils on Saturday evening. A 2-2 draw in Rades meant both sides are through to the last eight, with last two seasons champions Esperance sure of Group D top spot on head to head basis.

It was a thrilling encounter that saw each side inflicting an own goal on the night. Esperance raised their tally to 11 points, three more than Raja. DR Congo’s AS Vita and Algeria’s JS Kabylie follow in that order with four points each.

Both sides exchanged early attacks but without a real threat to either goalkeeper. Esperance had a series of consecutive corner kicks but without a real chance to disturb Raja’s goalkeeper Anas Zniti.

They would eventually got their first goal of the night two minutes after the half hour mark. A cross from the left side found Abdelraouf Benguit’s header that touched Raja’s captain Badr Bannoun body before going to the back of the net to give the title holders the lead.

The remaining minutes of the opening half witnessed no more real chances as both sides went to the break with Esperance leading 1-0.

Raja returned stronger after the break, and had their equalizer four minutes into the second half. Fabrice Ngah sent a long range low shot that hit Esperance goalkeeper Moez Ben Chrifia’s hands and the crossbar before settling into the net.

Raja completed what seemed to be a remarkable comeback when their skipper Banoun gave the visitors the lead seven minutes after the hour mark. A scramble inside the hosts’ area following a corner kick saw the ball falling to Banoun whose shot was too strong for Ben Chrifia to hold.

But hosts Esperance did what it takes to avoid their first defeat of the season, and managed to do so nine minutes from time. Immediately after coming in as a substitute, Fedi Ben Choug made use of a defensive blunder to restore parity.