Kone scores twice in two minutes against Carteron's Mazembe

TP Mazembe coach Patrice Carteron
TP Mazembe coach Patrice Carteron

Ismael Kone scored twice in two minutes as Mali's Stade Malien snatched a dramatic 2-2 draw with Congolese club TP Mazembe in the African Champions League.

Mazembe, coached by Frenchman Patrice Carteron (pictured), were in full control in Bamako as their last-16, first-leg clash entered the closing stages, having taken a 2-0 lead through Cheibane Traore and Daniel Adje.

But with Stade staring at defeat and almost certain elimination, Kone came to the rescue.

His goals after 74 minutes and 75 minutes set up a thrilling climax, and offered Malien a glimmer of hope ahead of the return match at the start of May.

Playing for high stakes
Overall winners of the ties advance to the lucrative group stage while the losers drop to the second-tier Confederation Cup.

Mazembe coach Patrice Carteron said it was difficult to work out why they threw away their lead.

"We were leading 2-0 and we were playing a fantastic game. I don't know why we had a very difficult 10 minutes after that. They had a lot of opportunities and they scored two beautiful goals," Carteron told BBC Sport.

Four-time champions Mazembe are the third most successful Champions League club behind Egyptians Al Ahly (eight titles) and Zamalek (five).

Carteron says his players should have closed out the victory.

"We had opportunities to score a third goal but I'm a little bit disappointed because I think we deserved to win today," he reflected.

"But it's quite a good result for us because a draw away - against a very good team of Stade Malien - is not a bad result."

A draw was a step in the right direction for the Malians after home and away losses to Mazembe in a Confederation Cup semi-final two seasons ago.

Malien lifted the Confederation Cup six years ago, but have never qualified for the Champions League group stage.

While Mazembe remain favourites to eliminate Stade, the tie between Sudanese El Merrikh and Tunisians Esperance is delicately balanced.

A mid-first half goal from the penalty spot by Alaeddine Youssef gave Merrikh a 1-0 home victory in Omdurman.

Two-time African champions Esperance were considered the likelier overall winners ahead of the first leg, and remain the more probable qualifiers for the eight-club mini-league phase.

But failure to score an away goal could return to haunt the Tunisians when they host the second leg in Rades.

On Sunday, Egyptian giants Al Ahly fell to a last-minute goal away to Morocco's Moghreb Tetouan. Mouhcine Yajour struck the only goal of the game to hand his side a surprise advantage.

CS Sfaxien of Tunisia also lost 1-0, away to Algeria's MC El Eulma, and the same scoreline favoured Congo's AC Leopards over Smouha of Egypt and Sudan's Al Hilal Omdurman at DR Congo's Sanga Balende.

Morocco's Raja Casablanca shared four goals with Entenete Setif of Algeria, while USM Alger of Algeria edged Guinea's Kaloum Star 2-1.

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