Tu­nisia’s Esper­ance win African Cham­pi­ons League

New Straits Times - - SPORT -

TU­NIS: Esper­ance mid­fielder Saad Beguir scored ei­ther side of half­time to help the Tu­nisian side win the African Cham­pi­ons League with a 3-0 vic­tory over Al Ahly of Egypt in the sec­ond leg of the fi­nal to claim the tro­phy 4-3 on ag­gre­gate on Fri­day.

Esper­ance fought back from a 3-1 de­feat in last week’s in­ci­dent­filled first leg in Alexan­dria, where con­tro­ver­sial VAR de­ci­sions clouded the out­come, to lift the con­ti­nent’s top club prize in con­vinc­ing fash­ion.

The Tu­nisians had strug­gled to break down a dogged Ahly de­fence but made bet­ter head­way as the game pro­gressed, cheered on by a noisy 60,000-strong crowd.

Beguir scored with vir­tu­ally the last touch of the first pe­riod, slip­ping the ball home af­ter be­ing teed up by a cut back from the left by Taha Yas­sine Khenissi.

The 24-year-old mid­fielder then got the all-im­por­tant sec­ond goal as he rose to head home Mo­hamed Ali Yac­coubi’s cross in the 53rd minute be­fore go­ing off min­utes later with a knee in­jury.

The sec­ond goal prompted a switch in tac­tics from both sides as Ahly switched to at­tack and Esper­ance im­me­di­ately made changes to bol­ster their de­fence to hold onto their ad­van­tage.

But Esper­ance caught Ahly on the counter at­tack with Anice Badri adding a third in the 86th minute with his eight goal of this year’s com­pe­ti­tion.

The match had a tense build-up af­ter the first leg in which the ref­eree handed Ahly two ques­tion­able penal­ties and there were ac­cu­sa­tions of vi­o­lence by the play­ers of both clubs on the pitch and in the tun­nel af­ter the match.

It was Esper­ance’s third Cham­pi­ons League suc­cess fol­low­ing ti­tles in 1994 and 2011, while Ahly had hoped to ex­tend their record of eight ti­tles by win­ning for the first time since 2013.

REUTERS PIC

Esper­ance play­ers cel­e­brate win­ning the fi­nal with the tro­phy.

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