CAF Champions League

Substitute keeper Ben Mustapha inspires Esperance into semis

Esperance goalkeeper Farouk Ben Mustapha. Photo |
Esperance goalkeeper Farouk Ben Mustapha. Photo |


Goalkeeper Farouk Ben Mustapha came off the bench to save two penalties as Esperance squeezed into the semi-finals of the Total CAF Champions League on Saturday with a 3-2 victory over CR Belouizdad on post-match penalties.

The game was forced into the lottery after Esperance came from two goals down in the first leg to win by a similar margin in the return tie in Rades.

Ben Mustapha came on for Moez Ben Cherifia with few seconds remaining and the game all but headed to penalties. Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane scored three minutes from time for Taraji Dawla to equal the aggregate score after substitute Abdel Raouf Benguit had scored in the 68th minute.

On penalties, Belouizdad found themselves trailing. Tournament top scorer Amir Sayoud started his side off on the wrong foot, placing his penalty wide before Ben Romdane scored for Esperance. Ahmed Gasmi scored the second for CRB with Anice Badri responding.

The Algerians were handed reprieve when Ghailene Chaalali had seen his penalty saved just after Draoui Zakaria had scored. But, they could not take the advantage with Djerrar Adel’s kick saved and Benguit scoring.

Keeper Ben Mustapha then stepped up to make a huge one handed save to block Nessakh Chemsedinne’s spot kick and hand his side victory.

In open play, Esperance had good opportunities to score in either half. Khalid Abdul Basit had two chances in the opening half, first his shot on the half turn being saved by the keeper while a touch off a corner minutes later went off the upright.

They had another golden opportunity, but Belouizdad keeper Taoufik Moussaoui made a brilliant full stretched save to deny Khalil Chammam’s well taken freekick.

In the second half however, the Tunisians stepped up and they halved the aggregate score when Benguit volleyed home after Abdul Basit’s header had come off the bar.

And with three minutes of regulation time, Ben Romdhane who has been a core part of the Esperance team sent his side back into contention with a sweetly struck shot from range.