Tunisia’s Esperance drew first blood in the quarter-final of the TotalEnergies CAF Champions League against Algeria’s JS Kabylie, winning 1-0 away from home to earn a precious first-leg advantage.
Mohamed Ali Ben Hammouda notched the vital goal in the second half to give Taraji the slim advantage heading into next weekend’s corresponding fixture in Rades.
Hammouda scored 10 minutes after the restart thanks to some quick thinking by Hamdou Elhouni who quickly started a throw in sending his teammate through into the box.
The forward made no mistake, curling the ball beyond the keeper to break the deadlock.
The home side would feel hardly undone by the goal as they had the most and the best of scoring chances, especially in the first half.
In the 28th minute, they had a good chance when Mohamed Boumechra took a strike at goal after a brilliant cutback from Kouceila Boualia found him unmarked inside the box, but the Esperance keeper Moez ben Cherifia made a brilliant save.
Five minutes later Boualia had his turn with a shot at goal when he took a great curling effort on target, but it was blocked for a corner.
In the second half, just after going ahead, Esperance did well to seal their single-goal advantage. The home side, pushed on by a partisan home crowd in Algiers threw everything to draw level.
In the dying minutes of the game, they had an opportunity to draw level when substitute Mustapha Alili wriggled his way past a forest of legs on the left, but his shot was blocked well by the keeper.
Kabylie’s efforts with six added minutes couldn’t conjure a draw, and will now have their work cut out heading to next weekend’s return fixture on enemy territory.