Esperance de Tunis retained their hold on top of Group D after a 1-0 win over last season’s Total CAF Champions League losing finalists Zamalek at the Cairo International Stadium on Tuesday, reaching the quarterfinals in style.
Hamdou El Houni scored the lone goal for Esperance midway through the second half to hand them three points and complicate matters for the White Knights.
Esperance top the group with 10 points, two ahead of Algeria’s MC Alger who won via the same margin against Senegalese debutants Teungueth while Zamalek are third with just two points.
They next face Alger away from home on April 2, a match they must win to keep their hopes of making it into the last eight alive.
It was a tight game between the two North African giants with not so many scoring opportunities in either half.
Zamalek’s Ahmed Mostafa had a shot from range in the 37th minute which went wide while Esperance had an opportunity four minutes to the break, El Houni having a strike turned behind for a corner by the keeper.
It was same script for the second half. Four minutes after the restart, Esperance keeper Farouk Ben Mustapha kept his side in the game with a brilliant flying save to pluck away Achraf Bencharki’s well curled freekick from the top corner.
Esperance had a good chance in the 62nd minute when El Houni’s cross found Khalid Abdul Basit well placed inside the box, but his header was over.
They however got the goal in the 72nd minute, El Houni finishing off expertly with a first time shot from the edge of the box. The Tunisians quickly turned defense into offense, Hamdi Naguez winning the ball on the right before galloping into the opposition half and cutting back a cross for El Houni.
The home side were stunned, but put in the work to try and get back into the game. However, Esperance defended with their hearts to preserve the victory and reach the quarterfinals.