Dominant Esperance gain CAF Champions League advantage

©JS Kabylie

FOOTBALL Dominant Esperance gain CAF Champions League advantage

Festus Chuma 02:00 - 22.04.2023

The Blood and Gold put on a great display as they sent a message to the rest of the African continent

Four-time African champions Esperance de Tunis closed in on CAF Champions League last four on Saturday morning after they saw off highly-fancied JS Kabylie 1-0 at Stade 5 du Juliet in Algiers.

The Blood and Gold hold a slim lead going into the next week’s second leg thanks to a lone strike from Mohamed Ali Ben Hammouda.

Nabil Maaloul's charges started the tie brightly, as Hamdou Elhouni's shot in the box nearly snuck under goalkeeper Mohamed Hadid as early as the 10th minute.

Kabylie’s first threat came in the 15th minute through Nait Salem’s first-time strike outside the box with Kouceila Boualia hoofing the follow-up after Ben Cherifia split the initial effort.

Esperance nearly broke the deadlock a minute later when Fousseny Coulibaly  played a fine pass for Mootez Zaddem, but the striker dragged his effort just wide of the mark.

Kabylie were presented with a chance late in the half but Mohamed Amine Tougai did well to clear away Nait Salem’s goal-bound effort, with Ben Cahrifia well beaten.

The hosts threatened early into the second period, as Fares Djabri’s ferocious free-kick from range, following a foul by Ben Hamida to Kouceila Boualia, was unconvincingly kept out by Charifia.

Esperance then tweaked their structure and their efforts were rewarded in the 54th minute when Mohamed Ali Ben Hammouda drove a shot into the back of the net from a close range effort.

Kabylie’s Lamine Quottara came close to netting an equaliser in the 65th minute with a strike from the edge of the area that flew just wide off the post.

The next clear cut opportunity in the second half fell to Esperance’s El Houni, as the midfielder's powerful shot from the edge of the area went inches wide.

Dadi Moukai nearly found an equliser for the home side in the 87th minute but the midfielder's long-range effort drew a fine save from Ben Charifia.

Kabylie failed to bypass the stubborn Esperance defence in the remaining stages, with Chelali being denied by Khedairia in stoppage time.