African Champions League: Zamalek knock out holders Esperance to reach semi-finals

Esperance vs Zamalek
Billel Bensaha scored the only goal for holders Esperance on Friday but it was not enough as Zamalek went through to the Champions League semi-finals

Holders Esperance of Tunisia went out of the African Champions League on Friday despite a 1-0 quarter-final second leg win over Zamalek of Egypt.

Zamalek had taken a 3-1 first-leg lead into the return match and qualified 3-2 on aggregate to meet Raja Casablanca of Morocco or TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the semi-finals during May.

Raja hold a 2-0 aggregate advantage over Mazembe ahead of the second leg in Lubumbashi on Saturday.

Two unanswered goals would have taken Esperance through on away goals and they could not have wished for a better start near Tunis with Algerian Billel Bensaha giving them a fifth-minute lead from the penalty spot.

The winger held his nerve in the stadium in Rades to plant the ball into the middle of the goal as Mohamed Abou Gabal dived to his left.

A scuffle broke out immediately after the goal in another tense clash between the two north Africans giants, who have won the Champions League nine times between them.

The first leg in Egypt resulted in coaches and players receiving suspensions.

On Friday in Tunisia, five Zamalek and three Esperance players received yellow cards and 56 fouls were committed.

With Esperance failing after winning the 2018 and 2019 finals, Tunisian hopes of keeping the trophy in the country rest with Etoile du Sahel.

Etoile host Wydad Casablanca of Morocco on Saturday - also in Rades - because their ground is being renovated. They trail 2-0 from the first leg.

In the other quarter-final, record eight-time champions Al Ahly of Egypt hold a 2-0 advantage over Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa with the sides meeting again on Saturday near Pretoria.

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