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By Katlego Modiba

Football Journalist


Esperance hold the advantage after win over Sundowns

Esperance have taken a huge step towards reaching the Caf Champions League final following a narrow 1-0 win over Mamelodi...


Esperance have taken a huge step towards reaching the Caf Champions League final following a narrow 1-0 win over Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday.

Yan Sasse scored the only goal of the match to separate the two teams in the first leg of the semifinal at Stade Olympique Hammadi Agrebi.

Sundowns have it all to do in the second leg if they are to progress to the final of Africa’s premier club competition. They have to score and win at home to have any chance of reversing the scoreline against the four-time champions.

The Tunisian giants had the better of the early exchanges against a jaded Sundowns team that clearly missed the influence of Teboho Mokoena, who sat out the game through injury.

Esperance fired the first warning shot in the 39th minute when Rodrigo Rodriguez hit the upright after Sundowns lost possession of the ball inside their own box. Sasse opened the scoring four minutes before the break after latching on to a through ball by Rodriguez.

Ronwen Williams got a hand to Sasse’s first effort but the ball bounced in his favour and he made no mistake the second time around. The North Africans deserved their lead at half time. They were the better side in the first half in front of the partisan crowd.

Lorch miss

Masandawana raised their game in the second stanza looking for an equaliser. With a bit of composure, the visitors should have hit back straight after the restart. Thembinkosi Lorch missed a glorious chance to equalise four minutes into the second half after being set up by Lucas Ribeiro but sent his effort over the bar.

Esperance held on for the victory ahead of the second leg that will take place at Loftus Versfeld on Friday. TP Mazembe and defending champions Al Ahly played to a goalless draw in Lubumbashi in the other semifinal.