Esperance beat Hilal to close in on Champs League final

Youssef Msakni
Youssef Msakni scored the only goal of the game for Esperance

Tunisian side Esperance took a giant step towards the Africa Champions League final when beating Al Hilal 1-0 on Sunday in Sudan.

Youssef Msakni scored the only goal at a sweltering Hilal Stadium in Omdurman in the semi-final first leg.

He scored four minutes in to end his seven-match goal drought in Africa's flagship club competition.

It was the fourth goal scored by the 20-year-old in the Champions League this season.

The second leg of the semi-final is scheduled for mid-October in Tunis and a draw will suffice for the Blood and Gold.

The goal was Msakni's first since April when he contributed one to a 5-0 demolition of Senegalese visitors Diaraf Dakar.

Hilal are generally much stronger at home than away in Africa and now face the bitter prospect of exiting at the semi-finals stage for the third time in five years.

Meanwhile, Pascal Angan's last-minute winner gave Moroccan side Wydad Casablanca a 1-0 victory over Nigeria's Enyimba in the first-leg of the semi final of the Champions League on Saturday.

The Benin international headed in the goal in the 89th minute in Casablanca.

The home team had virtually given up hope of cracking open a brave Nigerian defence when they were awarded an 89th-minute free-kick.

Enyimba keeper Paul Godwin misjudged the kick and Angan nodded home but the Nigerian glovesman had been outstanding under a relentless Wydad onslaught led by Congo-Brazzaville striker Fabrice Ondama.

Godwin, who committed a rare blunder to gift Heartland victory in the Nigerian FA Cup final last weekend, was lucky not to be sent off a minute after the goal when he handled outside the box.

It was the first loss suffered by two-time African champions Enyimba in the competition this year after eight victories and three draws, including one at the same Casablanca stadium against Raja during the group phase.

Enyimba host the return match on 16 October in south-eastern city Aba with 1992 champions Wydad seeking an away goal that would leave their opponents needing to score three to qualify for the two-leg November final.

The final will be staged during the first half of November with Wydad or Enyimba hosting the first leg in pursuit of the $1.5m prize and a place at the year-end Fifa Club World Cup in Japan.

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