Esperance of Tunisia beat TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo 1-0 in the first leg of their CAF Champions League semifinal at the Stade Olympique de Radès in Rades, Tunisia.
Youcef Belaili got the only goal of the game on 51 minutes glancing in a header from a left-wing cross.
Esperance failed to make their dominance of possession count against the 10-men of TP Mazembe who had Kabaso Chongo sent off after 72 minutes for a second yellow card.
Esperance, the defending champions could have won by a bigger margin were it not for some wayward finishes and an inspired performance from Mazembe goalkeeper, Sylvain Gbohouo.
Esperance head coach Moine Chaabani praised his players but was cautious about his side’s chances of progressing to the final.
“We thank God for this victory. The players spared no effort tonight, playing an excellent game. 1-0 is not a perfect result to make us think that we already have one foot in the final. We haven’t conceded any goal, and that’s very important. The qualification comes from the second leg game. This is the Champions League semifinal, the games are not going to be easy,” Chaabani said.
Esperance are aiming to join TP Mazembe, Al Ahly of Egypt and Enyimba of Nigeria as the only teams to win the CAF Champions League in successive seasons.
TP Mazembe will host the second leg of the semifinal in Lubumbashi on May 4. The winner will face either Wydad Athletic Club of Morocco or Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa.