Esperance beat Sewe to top their Champions League group

Moez Ben Cherifia

Esperance moved to the top of Champions League Group B after a 1-0 away victory at Ivorian side Sewe Sports on Sunday.

The Tunisian club, who have featured in the last three Champions League finals, lead the group on goal difference from Cameroon outfit Coton Sport, who were 2-1 victors over Angola's Recreativo Libolo.

Esperance's victory in San Pedro owed much to a superb performance from their goalkeeper Moez Ben Cherifia (pictured, top), who produced a number of outstanding saves to keep his side in front.

After a scoreless first half, Esperance took the lead on 48 minutes through Oussama Darragi but then relied on Ben Cherifia to secure victory.

Good fortune also favoured Esperance when Sewe's Ocansey Mandela crashed the ball against the visitors' crossbar.

Coton Sport were worthy winners over Recreativo thanks to goals in either half from Alexis Yougouda, the top scorer in the tournament with six, and Emmanuel Mbongo.

Lennox Bacela
Orlando Pirates striker Lennox Bacela was on target against Zamalek

Libolo pulled one back in the closing stages through Ruben Gouveia but it was just a consolation.

At the half way point both Esperance and Coton Sport have six points from three matches, while Recreatico Lubolo and Sewe Sports have three.

On Saturday, South African club Orlando Pirates completed a memorable double over Egyptian sides with a 4-1 win over Zamalek.

The victory gives the Pirates a three-point advantage at the top of Group A. It follows their 3-0 win over title holders Al Ahly two weeks ago.

Ahly clawed their way back into contention for a semi-final spot with a 1-0 win away to AC Leopards of Congo-Brazzaville. Ahly are level with second placed Leopards. Zamalek are bottom of the group, three points further adrift.

Lennox Bacela gave Pirates the perfect start with a goal in the 27th minute. Mahmoud Shikabala equalised for Zamalek two minutes later.

After that, the Egyptians struggled in Soweto, showing the effects of their lack of regular competition as Tlou Segolela, Sifiso Myeni and Daine Klate all scored for the home team to give Pirates the win.

Champions Ahly kick-started the defence of their crown with a 1-0 win over AC Leopards of Congo in Dolisie with Walid Soliman scoring four minutes before half-time.

Leopards were guilty of squandering several chances against Ahly and must now play two of their last three games in Egypt.

Domestic football in Egypt has been cancelled in the wake of last month's military takeover in the country, leaving both Ahly and Zamalek short of match practice.

The two clubs, who have dominated club competition across Africa for more than three decades, were expected to dominate the group.

The top two sides from each group advance to the semi-finals.

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