Pitso Mosimane’s Al Ahly side took a step towards defending their Caf Champions League crown after a slender 1-0 win over Esperance in the semi-final first leg in Tunisia on Saturday gave Pitso’s men a tight lead heading into the second leg at home.
Kick-off was delayed by an hour after security fired teargas to try to control the ‘rioting’ Esperance fans at the Rades Stadium, with the Ahly players forced off during their warm-up and players claiming they were struggling to breathe.
The game eventually got under way and, after a tight start, the vistiors had the first chance as a short free-kick routine with 17 minutes gone opened up space for Mohamed Sherif to strike, but his effort was easily saved.
Al Ahly had the ball in the back of the net a few minutes later, but Sherif was ruled offside after a VAR check.
The home side then started to threaten and El Shenawy had to be sharp as he denied Esperance the opener with a superb save in the 34th minute, taking the ball off the foot of their forward.
William Togui had a half chance for Esperance just before the break, but with neither side managing to hit the back of the net they went into the change room at half time level at 0-0.
Mosimane’s men looked more likely to break the deadlock in the second half, as first Taher Mohamed failed to hit the target with his volley at the back post in the 53rd minute before Sherif had an opening of his own finding himself free in front of the Esperance keeper following a corner, but he struggled to control his attempt.
The deadlock was eventually broken as Aliou Dieng went on a surging forward run before slipping Sherif through on goal and, although the forward’s first attempt hit the post, the rebound fell straight to his feet leaving him with the simple task of stroking the ball into an empty net with 65 minutes played.
Esperance tried to put pressure on Al Ahly but the defending champions hardly let them create any decent chances as they saw out the game.
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